On November 1st, a new law went into effect in Oklahoma. Now, anyone who is 17 and a half years old can pre-register to vote so they will be prepared when they turn 18. Previously, a person had to wait until two months before their 18th birthday.
AP U.S. history teacher Emily Harris was quick to get the word out to students at Rogers. With the help of librarian Tina Ham, she held a voter registration drive to help eligible students register to vote.
“I’m obviously not here to tell them who to vote for or what their opinion should be, but I’m helping them understand the voting process,” Emily explained. “A lot of them are first-generation American citizens so they have not seen their parents vote before. They don’t really know what the process looks like. I’m here to help them fill out a form, explain to them to the purpose of the form, and also explain to them what they do on Election Day.”
Senior Francisco Andablo registered as soon as he could. He is looking forward to voting in his first election.
“It is something I always wanted to do. I’m the first generation to be born in America. I’m the first stepping stone in my family that has that ability,” he said.
Francisco said he follows the news and stays up to date with what is happening in the country. Emily said many of her students are engaged and interested to learn more.
“Since I teach social studies, I constantly get questions,” she said. “I always love to be able to present both sides and teach them how to argue, teach them how to have evidence to support their claims and to learn about the political process in general so they can be an educated voter.”
Emily recommends students check out the OK Voter Portal to get information and look at sample ballots before each election. The hope is for students to feel empowered on Election Day.
“Anytime you go to a new place or do something for the first time you are going to feel uncomfortable. Hopefully they are getting information today that will help them feel more comfortable in the voting booth,” she said.
Emily also shared with students that their age group is the least likely to show up to vote. With early registration and increased engagement, there is optimism that the trend will improve.
“I think I’m going to change the future,” said Francisco.
Rogers students that would like to register to vote can reach out to Emily Harris or Tina Ham to get a form anytime throughout the school year. Voter registration forms are also available at the County Election Board, post offices, tag agencies, libraries, and online.