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High School Students Lead Voter Engagement

19 Aug 2019 9:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Young Leaders Promote New Voters to Register

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Dan Krivit, LWVSP Youth Vote Chair
(Dan.Krivit@outlook.com) or 612-616-7739


ST. PAUL, MN (August 1, 2019) –
High school students in St. Paul took the lead in registering over 100 new potential voters this past spring in 5 different senior high schools. Supported with stipends and training from the League of Women Voters, 11 high school students learned about the details of how to register new voters using standard forms and online applications. These student leaders used their own stories about why it is important to become civically engaged in government affairs and vote in upcoming elections.

As a recent graduate of Como Park Senior High School, PaNhia Vang was one of 3 “Student Fellows” supported by a program sponsored by the League of Women Voters Minnesota (LWV Minnesota). “I wanted to help my fellow students and my community to increase their voices so we can be heard by our elected officials” Vang said. “Too often young citizens and people of color are underrepresented in government conversations. Voting is one of the best ways to make sure we are heard.”

Two high schools, Como Park and Central, were a part of the LWV Minnesota “Student Fellowship” program this past spring. Other Como Park HS Student Fellows include: Theo Lucy, and Lexie Harris and each conducted their own issue advocacy project plus organized a student lead series of classroom presentations throughout the day on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 in 22 different social studies classes of seniors and juniors. The Como Fellows decided to call this a “political participation drive” rather than a voter registration drive to emphasize that all students can become engaged in civics to help shape their own government. Como Social Studies Teacher Eric Erickson supervised the students. “It was inspiring to see these students go above and beyond with leadership roles in our democracy,” said Mr. Erickson. “They did an excellent job modeling participation, motivating their peers, and registering voters.”

The 5 Central Fellows include: Nora Bergstrom, Melissa Elmer, Mariam Khayr, Cali Rivera, and Madeline Bagdade. These Fellows conducted a voter registration drive during the lunch hours at the Central High School cafeteria during the week of April 22 through 26. Stephanie McCleerey is the Central High School Social Studies Teacher that helped recruit and coordinate these Fellows with the LWV Fellowship program.

The League of Women Voters St. Paul (LWVSP), organized a parallel Student Leader program in 3 other St. Paul high schools this past spring: Focus Beyond, Harding, and Washington Technology Magnet.

At Focus Beyond, 2 voter training sessions were conducted: May 14 and May 16, 2019. Students. Raymond and Dominique helped motivate their other Focus Beyond Students. Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) School Board member Jon Schumacher also gave a brief presentation both days to help explain the role of the SPPS School Board. His remarks were timely given that the 4 of the 7 School Board seats are up for election on November 5, 2019. Jon Schumacher is retiring from the School Board as he has decided not to run again. Focus Beyond Teachers Mary Fran Schwartz and Andrew Andestic are the leaders of this civic engagement and voter registration effort. Focus Beyond is unique in that it serves students with individual education plans working towards their high school diploma and therefore students are 18 to 21 years old. A two-part series of “Tours to the Polls” is planned for October 29 and October 31, 2019 to actually go to the Ramsey County Elections Office with students to vote early in this year’s local Saint Paul elections. This same “Tour to the Polls” strategy was used successfully last year in the midterm, 2018 elections.

At Harding High School, 3 LWVSP student leaders conducted a voter registration events during senior advisories on May 6 and May 20, 2019. The student leaders are: Memphis Thao, Jordanna Marshall, and Tochi Onuegbu. In total, about 17 seniors were registered (9 using paper forms and 8 using the MNVotes.org online form) Peter Beck is the Harding Social Studies Teacher who helped LWVSP volunteers organize the event.

At Washington Technology Magnet, LWVSP coordinated with another organization to produce a voter registration event held on May 9, 2019.

The LWV high school outreach efforts have also included promotion of the Ramsey County Elections Office program to recruit student election judges. Many of the LWV fellows and other student leaders were also student election judges. The Ramsey County Elections office plans to continue this popular student election judge program this fall for the November 5, 2019 local elections. For more information on this student election judge program, visit the Ramsey County Elections Election Judge Information web page.

Next school year, LWVSP already has plans to expand this high school student leader program to also include Humboldt, Johnson, and the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists (SPCPA),

The LWVSP Youth Vote Team is comprised of volunteers and one part time Project Coordinator. If you want to join the LWVSP Youth Vote Team and help work with high school and college students, contact Dan Krivit (612-616-7739; Dan.Krivit@Outlook.com) or Morgan Hess, Youth Vote Project Coordinator (303-746-6795; MHess@Macalester.edu).
 

The League of Women Voters of St. Paul (www.lwvsp.org), celebrating its 100th year in 2019, is dedicated to informed and active participation of citizens in government. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and neither support or opposes political parties or candidates.

 

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