Colorado high school students are breaking voter registration records and having fun doing it.
Written by Jeriel Clark of Western Colorado Alliance.
Starting with 15 interns this summer, our Western Slope Youth Voter Initiative has since doubled in size to more than 30 high school students, active in three counties – Garfield, Mesa and Montrose. These students registered hundreds of young voters during the first two months of the 2018/19 school year – in classrooms, at lunch tables, and even in dinosaur suits!
In Colorado, any high school that registers 85% or more of its senior class to vote becomes eligible to receive the Eliza Pickrell Routt Award from the Secretary of State. While all of our schools are working hard to receive the award, our team at Olathe High – Soledad, Cinthia, Jesus and Leif – have already met this goal!
In a week-long push coordinated with their teachers, they registered every eligible senior student who wasn’t already registered to vote. It’s a phenomenal achievement, making Olathe High only the second school on the Western Slope to receive the award since the program began, and the first in Western Colorado this year.
Among the students they registered in the classrooms was Eliseo Ruiz. Eliseo exercised his right to vote for the first time on November 6, which also happened to be his 18th birthday! And the Olathe students aren’t done yet! Now that the midterm elections are over, they plan to pre-register as many of the juniors as they can to get a jump start on next year.
In a week-long push coordinated with their teachers, they registered every eligible senior student who wasn’t already registered to vote.
Because of Colorado’s election laws, the students had to take a break from voter registration activities in the 22 days preceding the election. But this requirement didn’t keep them from civic action. Many of our youth helped get out the vote for candidates and issues they felt passionate about.
And maybe you saw one of their awesome videos on social media or in an email? They pulled out all the stops to encourage everyone who was eligible to vote in the midterm election!
Their work is far from done. The Western Slope Youth Voter Initiative internships follow the school calendar, and our interns will continue registering their peers through the end of the 2018/19 school year. Some are just diving in, with our four newest interns at Roaring Fork High joining us the day after the election.
Among the students they registered in the classrooms was Eliseo Ruiz. Eliseo exercised his right to vote for the first time on November 6, which also happened to be his 18th birthday!
In addition to registering voters, we’re working on ways to make the ballot more accessible and less intimidating to first-time voters, with a reminder that in many communities, elections can come more than once a year.
Additionally, we’re planning to add an extra day to our People’s Lobby Trip to the state capitol in early 2019 in order to focus on issues important to our interns.
We couldn’t be more proud of these students, and are looking forward to growing the Western Slope Youth Voter Initiative program in the years to come.