The League of Women Voters of Beloit is proud to announce our work on youth voter registration this spring. We were fortunate to receive funding through the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) and the Wisconsin and Public Education Network/Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES) to support this work.

We began our efforts with finding members to take the lead in youth voter registration at six area schools. Once we had put together a core of leaders, we were able to make contacts with the schools to set up meetings to discuss the best approaches for registering students at their institutions.

Since early February, our leaders have assisted youth to register to vote at Clinton High School, Rock County Christian School, Beloit Memorial High School, Turner High School, Parkview High School, and Blackhawk Technical College. We were able to register 38 students during these initial visits, with our team at Turner High School registering 25 students from the City of Beloit, Town of Beloit, Turtle Township and Town of Rock. The two young men in charge of the voter registration table played a great role in achieving this success. Our team made sure that the voter registration forms were delivered to the respective clerks.

While our focus is on registering young people to vote, our presence at these events educates all students, no matter their age, on the value of voter registration, elections, and civic engagement at the local, state, and national levels. At Beloit Memorial High School, we presented in the American Democracy classes and answered questions from a lot of students not old enough to register to vote. We had a great time registering six students during lunch at Parkview High School, but we also enjoyed handing out “Future Voter” stickers to the freshman, sophomores, and juniors eating lunch.

As part of youth voter registration, we also sent out information to our contacts to encourage their students to watch or attend candidate forums in their city, town, or township. We hope that they were able to participate in these forums so that their first time to vote, especially at the local level, was an informed vote. We also sent out postcards reminding our newly registered students to vote in the April 5 Spring Election. We appreciate the Wisconsin Public Education Action for providing us with the postcards and stamps.

On March 23, we contacted our schools to ask them to share information on the upcoming April 5 Spring Election with their students, teachers, and staff. We also included a flyer on the election that they could post in their schools. We also shared a wonderful “Native Vote” video with them on April 4, the day before the election.

Although we had taken some time off visiting schools until after the April 5 Spring Election, we are now excited about returning to schools to register future voters and to educate them on civic engagement in April and May. We will be focusing on making sure that we reach out to all students about the value of voter registration and civic engagement, whether they start working right after graduation or enroll in community colleges, technical colleges, or four-year colleges and universities.

Please feel free to contact Patricia Zody at patzody@gmail.com if you have any suggestions in getting our youth registered to vote, learning more about government issues, and getting involved in matters important to them.