Last Town Meeting Day, Vince Bolduc, along with volunteers, conducted an exit poll collecting data on the demographics of voters surveyed, and their opinions on different topics. Bolduc then shared his findings with the board, and one bit of information caught my eye. The second smallest age group that was surveyed were voters between the ages of 18 and 35. This was so shocking to me, for that age group is the second largest in South Burlington, according to the census.
At South Burlington High School, we have many students who are trying to get their voices heard and who want to make a difference in our community. We have our student council, our Coalition for Community Service, our Student Justice Union and many more students who aren’t specifically affiliated with any club. I thought that if we have so many clubs with so many students that are trying to make a change inside and outside of our school, why not make it easier for them to register to vote. With the help of the school board and the South Burlington High School administration, we will be having a voter registration drive for any student who is a U.S. citizen and will be 18-years-old by the next election.
I didn’t want to stop there. I don’t feel it’s right to register students to vote and just send them off on their way, uninformed about ballot issues. It is for this reason that we will be bringing in sample ballots before Town Meeting Day, and possibly even representatives from the school board and/or city council to help inform voters on the issues on the ballot. As South Burlington High School is a receiving school, we have many students from Georgia, South Hero and many other places in Vermont. Since those students wouldn’t be able to vote on the South Burlington ballot, we also will bring in information and sample ballots from our main sending towns.
Not only does this event prepare students for the future, it also is in direct alignment with the district’s Global Ends Policy, specifically in preparing students for their next step as “citizens” of local and global communities. Similarly, one of the high school’s proficiency based learning requirements is Responsible and Involved Citizenship. It’s quite obvious that being a responsible citizen is important in our district, and this event will allow students to take that next step. Hopefully, this event will be able to educate voters about what they’re actually voting for and will help to cement the habit of informed, responsible and routine voting along with the requirement of doing due diligence before placing a vote in a ballot box.