League of Women Voters Registers Seniors at High School

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Representatives from the League of Women Voters recently visited the high school on an ongoing mission of vital importance – registering new voters. Judie Gorenstein and Brenda Reiss, co-presidents of the LWV of Huntington, have been instrumental in delivering the message of the importance of voting to seniors who will be eligible to vote this coming November.

The LWV, a nonpartisan organization whose mission is to encourage and engage citizens into being active and educated participants in government, has helped the high school register more than 1,000 students over the last four years. According to Gorenstein, the two civic-minded volunteers help to register approximately 25 students in each of the government classes they visit at Deer Park, for an average of 100 newly registered young adults per day.

Gorenstein began their presentation by providing the students some background on the history of voting rights in America, from the nation’s founding and the Civil War to suffrage and the 26th Amendment in 1971, which affirmed the right to vote of those 18 years and older. She noted that in the 2012 election, only 45 percent of the youngest voters – those aged 18-30 – participated in the process. “The last people who got the right to vote, vote the least,” she told the seniors. “Your vote is your power, and on Nov. 4, you are going to change the odds and vote.”

In a mock election for governor of New York State, facilitated by Reiss, the entire class discussed and debated issues such as marijuana and immigration laws. The activity culminated in two students volunteering to “run” for governor and give speeches on their positions, something designed to encourage these future voters to examine candidates more closely. “Issues make them focus on where a candidate stands,” explained Reiss. “We want them to realize that their votes count.”

“This program gives our students an opportunity to practice democracy firsthand in the classroom,” said Heather Stewart, the district's FACS and social studies curriculum associate. “It also encourages our young people to become active citizens through registration.”