Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rock the Vote

You probably know by now that politics are very important to me. It’s not that I need you to agree with me, it’s that I need you to make educated decisions about how my country should be run, and then I need to you to go the polls and make your voice heard. If you can do those two things, no matter if we vote for the same things or not, I can respect you. I personally generally choose to go as above and beyond that as much as possible. I email my congressmen when something important is going on, I receive innumerable emails from the lobbies I care about, and I sign a multitude of petitions that are sent my way. Today a petition crossed my path that I think is important enough that not only did I sign it, I emailed most of my address book, and now I’m posting it here.
Rock the Vote did a study of the voting systems in all 50 states, and the average score was only 41%. That’s a big fat “F”! The highest score in the country was only 68% and too many states are going in the wrong direction.
You’d think that the most basic element of our democracy - the right to vote - would be guaranteed and easy to access for anyone who is 18 and a citizen of this country.
Sadly, this isn’t the case. For a majority of young people around the country, their elected leaders are failing to meet their needs.
We found that states make it unnecessarily confusing to get registered, make voting inconvenient, don’t implement new technologies that are common in every other part of life, and aren’t teaching young people about voting and elections in high schools. This is a recipe for disenfranchisement
Not satisfied with the results (see Illinois results below)? Let your elected officials know by sending them Rock the Vote Voting System Scorecard. (We've made it really easy if you click here.)
The Voting System Scorecard serves as a national benchmark that measures state laws and policies in three key areas: (1) voter registration, (2) casting a ballot and (3) young voter preparation. The 21-point scale evaluates each state’s implementation of policies that increase access to the political process.

Illinois Results
Automatic Registration: 0/3
Permanent and Portable Registration: 0/1
Online Registration: 0/3
Same Day Registration: 0/3
Third Party Registration Drives: 0/1
Registration Score: 0/11

Voter ID Requirements: 2/2
Convenience Voting: 2/2
Residency Requirements: 1/1
Absentee Voting: 1/1
Overseas and Military Voting: .9/1
Voting Score: 6.9/7

High School Civics: 0/2*
Pre-registration: 0/1**
Preparation Score: 0/3

Total Score 6.9/21
Percentage Score: 33%

*I have to note that as a history teacher, this one kills me. This was a pass/fail situation and Illinois passed. A state received 2 points if they taught civics and evaluated student performace and 0 points if they didn’t. That means my state, the state I am trying to teach history in, is inadequate in teaching MY subject matter!
**This one is also important because it really helps enfranchise young adults. The idea is that a student can register to vote at 16 or 17 and have that automatically activate on his or her 18th birthday. The reason this helps enfranchise students is because (1) they are registered to vote on their birthday, meaning that they CAN vote, and there’s no “Shoot, I forgot to register!” surprises and (2) in these areas election officials reach out to younger voters and education efforts are more important which helps give these first time voters more of a voice.

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