West Bloomfield High School's Political Leadership Plans to Educate Voters About Absentee Red Tape
The Political Leadership class at West Bloomfield High School is now more than halfway through its second year of existence and it has been nothing short of a success and positive addition to West Bloomfield’s arsenal of tremendous class offerings.
The class pairs up high school students as interns with the local town hall, police department, parks and recreation department, local lawyers, teachers, and political parties and candidates to give them a taste of what it is like to work in the real world and to learn real world skills.
Recently, senior Zara Pylväinen, 18, made the class aware of a new state law that requires first time voters to either register to vote in person to get an absentee ballot or to register by mail or online and show up in person to vote in their first election. The state law stated that if a voter registered by mail or online, they would not be eligible to receive an absentee ballot in an effort to prevent voter fraud or other potentially suspicious voting activities.
Pylvänien’s sister experienced a problem from this law first hand when she decided to go to Denmark for a year after high school. While she was out of the country, the 2008 elections took place but she could not vote even though she was registered because she found out she was ineligible to vote absentee. Obviously, Zara’s sister could not make it to her precinct that year as she was a hop, skip, and jump over the pond.
The Political Leadership class, under the guidance of Ms. Katherine Law, has taken this issue seriously and is now in a process of planning and executing a campaign to educate voters.
High school seniors and other first time voters are the main targets of their campaign about this potential roadblock to participating in the most common form of civic involvement by American citizens. Students have formed committees to attack this issue from every angle. The committees formed include; Facebook, Twitter, poster/flyer making, Spectrum/yearbook, emails, local media, videos/public service announcements, and holding class meetings.
Students in the Political Leadership have taken up this challenge at full force. They appear to be extremely motivated and to understand how this law can hinder citizens’ first voting experience. Some students, including seniors Alec and Anthony Fritz, 18, who will be attending the United States Military Academy, West Point next year, will not be in the state of Michigan on election day later this year have even learned that they need to register to vote in person before they embark on the next step in their lives in West Point, New York.
The Political Leadership class is hoping that this campaign has a viral effect and does a good job educating first time voters about the red tape in regard to absentee voting. The campaign’s slogan is "show your face to vote in the race," and it will use the Twitter hashtag, #BeaGgetUrAbsentee. It will officially go public around West Bloomfield High School, social networking websites, and media on Monday, February 26, 2012.
Be sure to “like” the Facebook page, Face First Michigan, and follow the Twitter handle @FaceFirstMI to get the most up to date information.
Ryan is a senior at West Bloomfield High School, you can follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Eaton94.