PROVIDENCE, R.I. – More than 200 students registered to vote during a drive at Mt. Hope High School today. The visit by the Secretary of State's office was part of an initiative designed to get more young people to the polls in 2012.
“Students who register to vote are more likely to become active citizens. Some of these young people will be tomorrow's leaders. Now is the time to engage them,” said Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
The drive took place in the school's auditorium, where students also got a primer on Rhode Island’s struggle for independence from England from Bristol Town Clerk Louis Cirillo. While 225 students registered to vote, others had questions about how to vote and next year's elections.
The stop at Mt. Hope High was a partnership with school administrators, local election officials and Steve Quick of the state Board of Elections.
“I am grateful to our partners for their commitment to this important initiative. Our success will pay dividends for decades to come as these youngsters exercise their right to vote election after election,” Mollis said.
Mollis plans to visit every Rhode Island high school leading up to the 2012 elections. In order to vote, students must be U.S. citizens, residents of Rhode Island and at least 18 years old by Election Day 2012.
“An informed electorate is the keystone of democracy. I hope our visit produced a new generation of voters and citizens committed to making their voices heard,” he said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 59 percent of eligible 18-to-24-year-olds were registered to vote on Election Day 2008. Just 49 percent actually voted in that election.
The Secretary of State’s office prepares the ballots for all federal, state and municipal elections held in Rhode Island. In addition, the office maintains the state’s central voter registration system and distributes handbooks that explain how to run for office, how to register to vote and how to vote.
Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier to vote, helping businesses grow and making government more open and accessible. Students who missed the voter registration drive are still in luck. They can find voter registration forms and answers to frequently asked questions at sos.ri.gov.
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