Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Mayor Darrell Steinberg and county schools chief Dave Gordon were joined at the podium by NUSD Supt. Chris Evans today in a press conference at Leroy Greene Academy urging youth to register to vote.
The LGA appearance by Padilla, Steinberg and Gordon honored National Voter Registration Day and California’s High School Voter Education Weeks, which set aside the last two full weeks in April and September to promote civic engagement and lifelong voting habits.
Padilla urged young people to get involved in their schools and community, starting with casting votes. He noted that California has a preregistration system, whereby students can sign up at 16 or 17 to become eligible voters automatically when they turn 18.
With several dozen LGA students looking on, Mayor Steinberg noted that today’s high school students will be tomorrow’s leaders. He urged youth to stand up and make their opinions count by casting ballots.
Steinberg noted that it’s not unusual for people to get involved when they get mad, concerned or worried about an issue. They become either short-timers who give up when solutions don’t occur overnight, or they make a lifetime commitment to making their world better.
“Make sure your voice is heard,” Steinberg told the LGA youth. “Be long-termers.”
Sacramento County schools Supt. Dave Gordon quoted from Thomas Jefferson, an American founding father: “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
LGA students Amarastarr Kight and Allissa Parks also spoke at the press conference, supporting youth activism at the ballot box.
“I believe that voting is a privilege and I feel we should be able to live up to it,” Amarastarr said later when asked about her appearance. “For a better future for ourselves, we should have a voice.”
“I feel that if we don’t voice our own opinion, there will never be the change made that we want,” Allissa added.
The Secretary of State’s office set up a table on LGA’s quad and invited students to register or preregister to vote there today.
Dylan, 17, was one student who stepped up to preregister. He said he was eager to cast a vote once he turns 18. Why? “Because every vote counts,” he said.
NUSD has joined other Sacramento County school districts this year in encouraging high school students to register or preregister to vote, if they’re eligible.
A voter registration button is posted on NUSD high school webpage, and student representatives are being trained by the League of Women Voters to appear before classes and urge peers to sign up.
Separate from the voter registration drive, NUSD high schools will participate in a mock gubernatorial election next month as an exercise in civic engagement. California’s next statewide general election is Nov. 6.