(May 2, 2018) Catherine Read interviews Beth Tudan, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Fairfax. Their discussion focuses on the League’s voter registration campaign for high school students, prior to the June 12th Primary and the November general elections. The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization, founded during the suffragist movement, that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issue, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
The League of Women Voters has recently renewed and revamped their efforts to bolster voter registration amongst high school students. After Beth’s own son went through his senior year of high school she saw first hand that there was no standard of how schools were handling the process of helping students to register. Some were registering during government class, but not all students were taking government. Some classes had the Board of Elections come in to talk about voting, some did not. Even within the same school, this process varied widely based on what classes the students were enrolled in.
As one of only three organizations who are authorized to go into the schools (the other two being the Board of Elections and Inspire Virginia), Beth recognized an opportunity. She took time to look around at best practices, and bring a better solution to the table. After working with the neighboring League in Arlington, and gathering information from successful programs across the country, she came up with a script and program that can be easily replicated in the classroom throughout Fairfax County. Beth sees this as an opportunity to partner with the schools in order to make a big impact with the 12,000 seniors registered in FCPS high schools countywide.
In collaboration with the Fairfax County Council of PTA’s (FCCPTA), where Beth also serves as President, she suggested running a countywide competition to see how many students each school could register to vote prior to the June primaries. This contest promotes school spirit and gets students to encourage their friends to take action. The League has visited many of the 27 high schools in FCPS. They have done presentations in government class, as well as host information tables with registration information in the school cafeterias.To date, 3500 students are registered out of a total of approximately 12,000 students. Even though not all students are US citizens or VA citizens, it is evident that there is more work to be done.
Tudan shares that students do not have to be 18 in order to register, but they do need to turn 18 by Election Day, November 6th. They simply need to submit their contact information, be a US and VA citizen, and provide their social security number (which can be found on the Common Application for college). The form can be submitted on paper or online. In fact, if the student has a driver’s license then have already been verified, therefore the online form takes a mere 5 minutes to complete and submit.
The deadline to register to vote in the June 12th primaries is May 21st at 5pm (11:59pm for online forms). The deadline to register for the November 6th General Elections is October 15th at 5pm (11:59pm for online forms). Remember, you can register as long as you will be turning 18 by November 6th.