LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS FUNDS PROJECT
In collaboration with the Mendocino County Elections Department, the Mendocino County Office of Education (MCOE) supported a countywide youth voter registration project funded by the League of Women Voters of Mendocino County (LWVMC). Twenty-two volunteers compiled 1,000 voter information packets and distributed them in high school civics classrooms and at public events.
LWVMC Co-President Cindy Plank said, “Our experiences have been varied, but all of them have been wonderful. We visited 14 high schools, representing 7 of the 10 Mendocino County school districts, as well as Mendocino College, helping hundreds of students register to vote.”
For classroom presentations, volunteers were allowed between 15 and 50 minutes, during which time they answered questions, informed students about how to register to vote and tried to inspire them to engage in the process. Plank said, “We encouraged students to use the power of their vote, and to use their own eyes, ears and excellent brains to make wise choices. They seemed to like the challenge of becoming the highest voting population, and not letting old people do all of the voting!”
Depending on how much time the volunteers had with students, they either shared information about registering to vote, or they helped interested students complete the process. In California, 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote. Then, once they turn 18, they are automatically registered. It takes approximately 5-10 minutes to register to vote atwww.sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-registration. Teens can pre-register or register online or via paper registration forms.
The LWVMC Youth Voter Registration Project was a non-partisan, grant-funded project that did not include support for any political campaigns or specific legislation. Its sole purpose was to encourage students’ civic engagement, initially by increasing voter registration. This year’s efforts focused on high school seniors, but Plank hopes to expand in the years to come. She thanked the many volunteers who helped make the project so successful.
“Several Fort Bragg High School students helped assemble approximately 200 voter registration packets. We also received help from Ukiah Mayor Mo Mulheren and Mendocino County Board of Education Member Tarney Sheldon, who organized several others in the area to join in with the packet assembly,” she said.
County Superintendent of Schools Michelle Hutchins said, “We wanted to reach as many students as possible and to help mitigate the widespread disparities in youth voting among Latinos, African Americans and young people with no college experience. We’re proud to have participated in this wonderful project.”
California’s Presidential Primary Election is scheduled for March 3, 2020, approximately nine months from now. Plank encourages students (and adults) to confirm that their voter registration is up-to-date so they can participate. She also invited people to learn more about the accomplishments of the League of Women Voters locally, statewide and nationally at www.facebook.com/LWVMendo1.
She implored, “Use the power of your vote. Every vote does count. Pledge to vote in every election for what matters to you, your family, and your community!”