LCS students take part in voting initiative

Monday, May 16, 2022

LE MARS — Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced a record high 31 schools qualified for the Carrie Chapman Catt Award this school year for registering 90 percent of its eligible students to vote.

Nearly 3,400 high school students registered this year in conjunction with the Catt Award initiative.

Le Mars Community High School was recognized for having at least 50 percent of eligible students register to vote.

Michael Bahr, LCHS social studies instructor, explained the project.

"The Secretary of State's office has a statewide award for schools getting their students registered to vote. I became involved when the Secretary of State's Office reached out and asked us if we could be included," Bahr said.

"In October of last year (2021) we had students sign pledge cards that said they would register to vote when they were eligible — those that were already eligible I registered them online," Bahr explained. "I set up a table outside of lunch with computers and had help from student council members who helped me register kids to vote either by paper forms or via the online method through the Secretary of State's website.

"We usually try to give students the option of registering to vote twice a year — COVID complicated those efforts," he said.

Bahr said 65 students registered which resulted in the at least 50 percent participation.

He encourages the students to register by teaching the requirements to vote and the voting process in his government classes, which all students take as 11th graders.

"Between that, and what's going on in the world — some are motivated to register," he said.

High school students can register when they're 17, and a resident of Iowa. They need a state issued identification card and their Social Security number, and proof of address. They cannot vote, however, unless they are 18 on or before Election Day.

Bahr said there is a reason to take part in the voter registration project.

"Decisions are made by those who show up. I want them to show up and be engaged on issues that matter. Our republic only works when people participate," he said.

For its placing in the project, Le Mars Community High School will receive a personalized certificate from Pate.

Pate created the Carrie Chapman Catt Award in 2019 to encourage voter registration in Iowa high schools. Twenty-two schools qualified in 2021, and 18 qualified in 2020.

“I’m thrilled to see so many young people stepping up and taking the first step in the voting process by getting registered,” Pate said. “Great job by the teachers and administrators at these 31 schools by engaging the students in civics. I tell young people all the time, the best way to make your voice heard is by voting, and to do that, you need to get registered.”

Pate plans to visit each of the 31 schools to present them with the Carrie Chapman Catt Award trophy. Additionally, 10 Iowa schools registered more than 70 percent of eligible students, and 17 registered more than 50 percent. Inspire2Vote collaborated with Pate’s office to assist schools with their voter registration efforts.

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