Leading by Example: Lee County, Florida Excels in Civic Engagement
The Supervisor of Elections (SoE) office in Lee County, Florida is setting an example for educating and registering young voters. Starting with programs for elementary school students, the county’s outreach culminates in the Annual High School Voter Registration Challenge, in which the SoE office offers civics classes to each high school in the county and invites them to register and preregister students. A traveling trophy spends the following year at the school with the highest percentage of students registered.
Lee County’s outreach program is exceptional because of the County’s 1) dedication to civics education at a young age, 2) commitment to holding annual registration drives, and 3) coordination with all high schools in the county. By beginning outreach at a young age, the SoE’s office gets children excited about the democratic process early on and ensures that they are informed when they become eligible to vote at eighteen. By holding a registration challenge annually, the Office connects with all of the students who have become eligible to register in the past year. Further, the Office coordinates with all high schools in the county to maximize awareness and to take advantage of the opportunity to register students while they are all still in high school.
Lee County teaches us that voter education and registration should be a tradition in high schools just like homecoming, college preparation, and graduation. Just as the college application process is about preparing students for their academic lives after high school, the voter education process should be about preparing students for their civic lives after high school. By emulating Lee County’s efforts, we can address the problem of low youth voter turnout: one study shows that preregistering voters increased turnout among young voters by 3 percent to 14 percent in Florida. We can achieve these results throughout the country, starting with just one drive in your area, by embedding civics in education from elementary school to high school.
You can learn more about the Lee County SoE’s programs with elementary schools, middle schools, summer camps, and more at https://www.lee.vote/Community-Education-Services/What-we-do/Serving-Lee-County-Students. If you know of any schools, counties, or volunteers making exceptional efforts in voter registration, share your story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to Jo Ann Beaumont at the SoE office for sharing the story of Lee County with us.