League of Women Voters looks to register local teens to vote

    Jean Lythcott, co-director for Voter Services at the League of Women Voters of Palo Alto, speaks to The Paly Voice about the importance of voting in a democracy. “Citizens are expected to have a voice, to make themselves heard,” she said. Photo: Angelina Wang

    With the 2018 statewide elections half a year away, the League of Women Voters of Palo Alto is working to pre-register 100 percent of Palo Altan high schoolers who will be eligible to vote in 2018.

    Jean Lythcott, the co-director for Voter Services of the League of Women Voters of Palo Alto, is spearheading this project. She hopes to reach every senior who will turn 18 before June 5, the date of the next primary election. Lythcott also hopes to take advantage of a state law passed in 2014 that allows Californian teens aged 16-17 to pre-register to vote. By pre-registering, when students turn 18, their voter registration will immediately become active.

    Lythcott emphasizes the importance of young people registering to vote, highlighting the fact that this current generation, which some refer to as “Generation Z,” will have one of the largest influences in the next couple of years compared to other generations. She points to the poor turnout of young voters in the 2016 elections, and hopes that by pre-registering students now, there will be larger turnouts in future elections.

    “You are … a generation that is so large, that the forecast is that your voices, along with Gen[eration] X, will determine public policy in these United States for the next 35 years,” Lythcott said. “You are all a force to be reckoned with.”

    Despite 2018 not being a presidential race, Lythcott still believes that eligible students should be lining up at to vote next year.

    “It is a year when the governor of California is up [for election], one of our senators is up for election,” she said. “There are all kinds of things happening next year. There is a primary in June and an election in November.”

    However, there are several requirements for someone to be eligible to vote. One must be a United States citizen, a Californian resident and not currently imprisoned or on parole for a felony, Lythcott said.

    According to its website, the League of Women Voters is a nationwide nonpartisan political organization, focused on informing voters and encouraging active participation in government. Created in 1938, the League was historically focused on enabling the 2 million women who had just secured the right to vote. While the organization’s official name is “League of Women Voters,” membership is open to anybody. According to Lythcott, the name was kept out of historical respect for the women who fought for their right to vote.

    As of right now, in order to achieve her goal of reaching 100 percent of students who will be eligible to vote, Lythcott hopes to put on a presentation during senior advisory on March 15 next year. However, students over the age of 16 can still register on their own by going to the online registry or registering at the Department of Motor Vehicles. More information on how to pre-register can be found here.

    “The primary beneficiary of casting a vote is you,” she said. “It is taking a step into adulthood, it is taking the responsibility of being a citizen of the United States and saying if I don’t do that, then I am letting the nation down. The first beneficiary is the person who is voting. The second beneficiary is the nation.”

     

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