On September 17th, Constitution Day, members of our Voter Services team went into classrooms at Los Altos High School helping to pre-register students to vote. The 232nd anniversary of the signing of the Constitution was a good day to discuss with students the importance of voting and how every vote matters.
We went into 19 US History and US History AP classes and talked to 516 students about how a citizen’s vote is their voice in government and voting helps elect representatives who will work on the issues you care about. Volunteers helped students complete voter registration forms and we left with 246 completed forms and delivered them to the Registrar of Voters in San Jose.* * Students who completed the forms will be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18 and will receive a ballot in the mail for the next election. Teachers complemented our presentation, which included the history of the right to vote, evaluating ballot information, and the importance of civic engagement.
The traditionally low youth voter turnout was demonstrated by having 20% of the class stand up, representing the 1 in 5 youth voters who voted in the 2014 midterm elections. Youth voter turnout increased almost 50% with the student led Never Again MSD movement after the Parkland shooting which motivated young people to register and vote. LWV members engaged the students by sharing personal stories about growing up in a society with no representative government, choosing a political party preference for a first election, and the importance of choosing school boards.
Constitution Day was a great success for our Voter Services team and the culmination of a year’s long effort that started with Claire Noonan and Claudia Hevel reaching out to the MVLA Superintendent about going into the classrooms to pre-register students and later collaborating with the teachers of the LAHS History Department to make it happen. The process has given us new ideas to take into the classroom next year. We appreciate the support and collaboration with the MVLA School District and LAHS administrators and staff.
** Some students took forms home to fill in missing information and others had already pre-registered, were too young (under 16) to pre-register, were not citizens, or chose not to participate.