Georgia voter registration event reports successful school turnout

During Homecoming week this year, students and faculty were introduced to a new service alongside the cotton candy machines and bouncy rides that are a fixture of the event: a voter registration table. Alex Floyd, senior and president of the Young Democrats, came up with the idea to bring in representatives from the Fulton County Board of Elections and give students and faculty members the opportunity to register to vote.  Tables and chairs were set up outside of Turner for the representatives of the Fulton County Board of Elections while the homecoming festivities commenced. Students were encouraged to come and register to vote. Anybody over the age of 17  1/2 was able to participate by filling out a simple form with basic information. Because the state of Georgia requires voters to register at least six weeks before the election, students who registered on Homecoming Day will not be able to participate in the 2013 November elections, however they will be able to vote in the 2014 election as well as any special elections that might come up in the summer.

Floyd and English teacher Tiffany Boozer deemed the event a success.

“We had an extremely good turnout,” said Boozer. “Even the representatives from Fulton County explained the number of those who registered was high.”

Floyd explained that the event was also incredibly exciting because it is rare for the Board of Elections to visit high school; he wanted to make the process of registering to vote easier for students.

“When registering to vote, it is more complicated at polls because they require lots of information for each voter.” said Floyd “The way we set up the event here at school only took a few minutes of each person’s time.”

Students who registered at school with the Fulton County Board were only required to give basic information including a form of I.D. and the last four digits of their social security number.  The process was simple compared to registering at the polls. Dozens of students registered, and the excitement from homecoming had a truly positive effect on the event.

“It was actually Mrs. Gober’s brilliant idea,” Floyd said, “to have the event on Homecoming which made it that much more successful.”

He also explained how, in the state of Georgia, the voting system is unique because people are not required to register or vote with a certain political party.  Georgia has an open primary voting system which really encourages more people to register, especially high school students who may not have fully decided on their individual political affiliation.

Although senior students represented the majority of those who registered, there were other participants as well, including Spanish teacher Maria Russell.

Russell recently became an American citizen and felt this would be the perfect opportunity to become eligible to vote now that she was a  citizen of the U.S.  Russell wanted to become involved in all the different decisions that affected not only her but also her family in general.

“I thought it was crucial to be involved in the process” Russell explained, “and I feel very privileged and honored to be able to give my opinion about a specific candidate.”

Russell also believes the event was a complete success and had a great turnout. She hopes that they will continue to have this event in the future.

The head of the event, Floyd, is a senior and will not be able to run voting registration next year. Nonetheless, he believes that this can become an annual event at school. Floyd wants to explore different possibilities of when and where to host the event in order to receive even more participants.  He theorized that a voter registration booth could be set up at the Pigskin Picnic next year so those who register would be able to vote in the November election. College Day is another option to consider.  Floyd hopes the future president of the Young Democrats club can take over and run voting registration.  He remains confident that regular voter registration booths will become a fixture of Westminster events.