Teacher Registered Kids to Vote Despite Stupid Law


votingIt's a standard practice at high schools across the country. A social studies teacher tells kids that they need to register to vote as soon as they turn 18. Some even take it a step further by handing out voter registration paperwork to make sure the kids have access. But as one teacher in Florida found out, that simple act of teaching kids to be good citizens could land you in legal hot water.

Jill Cicciarelli is facing thousands of dollars in fines for daring to start a drive to get her civics students to perform their civic duty. And our forefathers are concurrently spinning in their graves.

The law that Cicciarelli allegedly violated is new -- which explains why she didn't know about it -- and it requires any third party who is registering voters register with the state. They're also required to submit the applications within 48 hours of having them signed.

Way to make it hard for teachers to actually teach! How many groups of teenagers do you know who will all hand in their paperwork on the SAME day so their teacher can easily take one big pile to the voter registrar's office? Yeah, didn't think so.

Passed by Republicans, ostensibly to fight voter fraud, the law is being fought right and left by people who say it will suppress voter participation. I tend to agree. As long as you're telling teachers not to sign up new voters, you're cutting off the lifeblood of a community.

Our kids!

Remember when you were a teenager? When birthdays were still exciting milestones that meant new privileges and new adventures? It's that youthful exuberance that we need to capture to get people signed up to vote. Because once you're registered, you're set. You can vote. And you're more likely to hang in there as a voter again and again.

In a nation where less than half of people 18 to 24 are registered to vote (compared to 73 percent of geriatrics), we need to convince our kids that they need to get their butts in gear. And where better than in a classroom? Teenagers, especially, are often more likely to listen to a teacher than their parents (sigh ... ) when it comes to timely matters. It sounds like Jill Cicciarelli is being screwed for being just the kind of teacher I'd love to have in my kid's classroom: engaging, active, smart.

If laws like these are what it takes to fight voter fraud in adults, there needs to be a clause that separates teachers from the pack. We depend on them to impart lessons on citizenship. How about letting them do their jobs?

Do you think teachers should help kids register to vote?


Image via lowjumpingfrog/Flickr

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Argentina Iraheta

Oh and just to make a point, how is this any different from people signing up senior citizens at nursing homes or student groups registering kids on campus?

troeltc troeltc

My husband did this for his government class when he was a student teacher.  It was a way to teach civic responsibilty.  Not all parents votes, and thus these kids would only learn its importance in school.  Normally these lessons are part of a larger lesson on informed voting and where to find the forms.  Some states make it very difficult to find the vote registration forms, and information on who is running. 

I would love my boys to have a teacher encourage them to vote by helping them register to vote. 


lula440 lula440

Telling my kids to register? Yes. Handing out paperwork? Sure! Why not? I don't think it's necessary to hold their hands to the office tho. When do we let go of kids and let them take action themselves? I disagree with teacher being fined for this. Crazy!

Katriena Young

When I turned 18 I think I was registered to vote when I got my drivers liscense.

Yes it is a choice to vote or not but I live by what my dad says about voting. If you don't vote you can't complain about whoever won or didn't win. At lest when you vote you can honestly say, "I didn't vote for them!!"

LJC6780 LJC6780

How I see it they are encouraging and trying to help them get it done.. not forcing them to do it.. Not every child's parent's are involved and willing to help them get registered.. Teachers are there to help children learn and grow into responsible adults.. I don't see how helping them register to vote does any harm! As long as they are not preaching one side or the other.. and just encouraging them to vote in general..

Tyler... TylersToy

My daughter was never into "voting" even at 25.  I took her with my to my BOE class (I work all the elections). She got to see the new voting machines and learned a lot from the angle of working the election.  She is now a registered voter.  I think the sooner the kids can learn and understand the workings of government and the fact that "we" elect those people the better.  I never forced the issue with my daughter to get into voting (SHAME ON ME).  My son and I talk about it a lot though probably because I have worked just about every election since he was born.  And with Tyler (my 1 year old) he will grow up seeing me working every election too.  If anyone is looking to make a little extra Christmas money check in with your local Board of Elections.  If they are like the BOE in NY they are ALWAYS looking for people.  It's a super long day but it's worth it in December when you get that check for Christmas shopping! 

OnceA... OnceAgainMom63

Abolutely, YES! A republic, which is what we are suppose to be is only as healthy as voters make it. If we have a small pool of voters then it is not well represented. Many people are less than enchanted with our whole system, including some younger folks. If this teacher can get them registered, it is one hurdle passed. That still does not mean that they vote, but they could. Our senior soc. teacher did the same thing and really emphasized our important it was to be informed and contribute.

We want all parts of our population to have the chance to vote. Our agency that works with all disability groups ( also usually underrepresented ) also encourages it and for years has had us provide voter registration forms as part of the intake packet.  Very challenging for a blind person to get to the post office, get the form, fill it out etc. Once they are registered, again it is one less hurdle to be fully participating in society at large.

tinyp... tinypossum

Passed by Republicans, ostensibly to fight voter fraud, the law is being fought right and left by people who say it will suppress voter participation.

If you had left out this sentence, I suspect the the comments and commentors on this article would be vastly different. Any law that discourages civics teachers from educating and empowering young people from voting is ridiculous and highly suspicious. 

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