2017-04-21 / Schools

Voter drive earns state’s praises

By Hector Gonzalez

Oxnard Union High School District’s voter registration efforts added nearly 750 new voters to the rolls, prompting the state’s top election official to pay a congratulatory visit to Hueneme High School this week.

As part of High School Voter Registration Weeks the last two weeks in April, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla visited Hueneme High School on April 20 to recognize OUHSD for adopting a new student voter registration policy.

Oxnard Union has nine high school campuses and an adult school. It serves about 17,000 students.

Under California state law, 16- and 17-year-olds can preregister to vote, with their voter registration coming into effect as soon as they turn 18.

In California, the last two full weeks in April and September are designated as High School Voter Education Weeks. School districts are encouraged to conduct voter registration and education drives on campuses and in classrooms during those four weeks.

State law requires high schools to designate a contact person and provide their address, telephone number and email to the secretary of state so that election officials can provide the schools with voter registration materials.

After the district adopted its student voter registration policy in September, OUHSD held a fall registration drive and registered 749 18-year-old students to vote. The district also processed and submitted to the secretary of state 2,317 preregistration packets, Superintend Penelope DeLeon told the Camarillo Acorn in an email.

OUHSD’s policy directs teachers to talk to students about the importance of voting and to use class time to preregister students to vote.

Teachers are prohibited from advising, counseling or suggesting to students “in any way how to vote on any particular ballot issue,” the policy states.

A few days before the registration drive, teachers must announce the effort in class and inform their students that they should come to school prepared with the last four digits of their Social Security number or with a California ID or driver’s license, according to the policy.

Teachers can also assign one or more students to serve as voter outreach coordinators to organize campus registration drives.

At the end of each voter education week, teachers collect preregistration forms so the district can submit them to election officials, the policy says.

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