Commentary

02/18/2013  by Ed Coghlan

Education program for tomorrow’s voters now available

We know what you’re thinking. Didn’t we just have an election?

Yes, we did.

But in some parts of California, another election already looms.

The city of Los Angeles and some other communities around California are getting ready for their municipal elections. Tomorrow (Tuesday, February 19th) is the last day one can register to vote for any elections being held on March 6th. (If you want to register to vote, click here on the California Secretary of State's website.)

Turnout will not be high for these elections, which is understandable given the seemingly eternal 2012 Presidential Campaign. But if you do have a local election in your community, we urge you to vote.

At California Forward, we’ve been spending quite a bit of time in our reporting exploring voter participation in California, which continues to be low compared to other states. When you ask County Registrar of Voters what they would do to increase participation, you often hear about the need for more education, especially for young people.

Rock The Vote (RTV) is an organization that  has been promoting increased voter participation for more than two decades. More than 12,000 18 year olds became eligible to vote every day, and Rock The Vote pays special attention to that new, coming of age voter.

The organization has just released its 2013 Democracy Class program materials to help high school teachers instruct their students and help increase their understanding about how government works and inspire them to register to vote.

“It helps teach high school students about the history of voting rights, the power of their participation in our democracy, and how the voting process works,” said RTV’s Chrissy Faessen.

More than 3,000 educators in all 50 states have brought Democracy Class to their school since it's launch in 2010.  But Rock The Vote doesn’t think that is enough.  

“For our democracy to truly thrive, we need every young person in America to get a civics education and the chance to register to vote as they turn 18," added Faessen. “Our program inspires students to talk about what they care about, and like many voters, often they find that they care about things that are local, why the classrooms aren’t warm enough, why there aren’t enough books.”

Somewhere former House Speaker Tip O’Neill, who once famously said “all politics is local," must be smiling.

"We applaud Rock the Vote's efforts to increase civic education among our voters. In speaking with County Elections Officials around California, we find that increasing awareness of why it is important to register to vote and what your vote means can help increase voter participation among this key age group," said California Forward's Caroline Bruister.

The teacher needs materials and the students need inspiration. Sounds to us like this Democracy Class is a pretty good idea.  

Categories: Government

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