More than 50 Northshore School District high school students received a hands-on civics lesson June 5 and June 6, when they registered to vote at Inglemoor High School in Kenmore.
The Inglemoor event was the first in-school registration drive in the Northshore district, which includes schools in Woodinville, Bothell and Kenmore, and was organized by the League of Women Voters and the Inglemoor PTSA.
Although they had the option to register at computer stations, most students chose the old-school pen and paper registration method.
“The students are very serious about it. It’s like a rite of passage for them,” said Corina Pfeil of the PTSA.
Inglemoor Principal Vicki Sherwood said the registration effort complements social studies classes in which students learn about governing and the election process.
“This is a great way for students to make a connection” between what they learn in class and their real-life responsibilities as citizens, Sherwood said. “I hope it’s something we can continue.”
While the registration drive was open to the community, the bulk of those registering were 18-year-old students, as well as students who will turn 18 in time to vote in the Aug. 1 primary election, or the Nov. 7 general election.
Jody Trautwein, voter service chair for the Snohomish County League of Women Voters and a volunteer at the event, said many students are unaware that they can register as long as they will be of voting age by Election Day.
As a non-partisan organization, Trautwein said the league regularly partners with public entities, such as libraries, to conduct voter registration efforts. Those activities increase in the fall of each year, as Election Day approaches, she said.
In addition to registering students to vote, the league participates in efforts to register the homeless and ex-convicts, categories that include many people who do not realize they are eligible to vote, Trautwein said.
Pfeil praised School Superintendent Michelle Reid and School Board member David Cogan for their support of the registration effort. She said voter turnout data show that fewer than 10 percent of eligible teenagers exercise their right to vote, and that voter registration drives are one method of helping to boost that number.