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Project Proposal

Two months ago, just 36.4 percent of the voting eligible population cast ballots in the
2014 midterm elections. These turnout numbers are abysmal compared to turnout rates in the
representative democracies of Latin America and Europe. As appalling as the turnout rate was, it
was anything but surprising. Voter turnout, particularly for midterm elections, has been falling
since World War II, and the numbers aren’t showing any signs of improvement. While poor
turnout among the general population is undeniably concerning, the youth turnout rate is far
more frightening. Voters under thirty are more apathetic towards government and politics than
any generation in history. In the latest election, only 21.5% of voting eligible youth population
cast ballots. While I cannot hope combat the political apathy that seems to pervade a vast
majority of the youth population, by hosting a voter registration drive at Centennial High School,
I can ensure that no Centennial graduate skips a trip to the polls because he isn’t registered.
Voter registration drives have been attempted by Intern/Mentor students before, but most
attempts have met with limited success because they’ve been heavily reliant on student initiative.
Last year, to avoid falling victim to the same trap, I organized a voter registration drive, which
took place entirely during class. Mr. Zehe, who is acting the head of the social studies
department, has already agreed to set aside one period in all junior and senior social studies
classes to register students to vote again this year, so that I may run a similar drive this year. Last
year, we delivered computers to the classrooms using three mobile computer labs, directed
students to the Maryland Online Voter Registration (OLVR) System, and walked them through
the registration process. To reach the website, however, students had to Google a very specific
phrase or enter a complicated URL. This cost the students, their teachers, and myself valuable
time in class. And students who had forgotten their SSNs or Driver’s Licenses and had to register
at home frequently struggled to navigate back to the site. This year, I will create and publish a
website using the Rock the Vote widget with a simple URL (ex. Centennialvotes.org) to rid our
registration of the technical nightmares created by the OLVR portal and its unfortunate location.
As aforementioned, Mr. Zehe has already agreed to set aside one class period per
junior/senior class to enable our in-school registration drive. We will perform the registration
drive Apri 4-8th. Next week, I will request a list of social studies classes containing juniors and
seniors from Mr. Zehe. Once I have received and reviewed the list, I will contact all the teachers
on the list and request that they set aside class half a class period for our registration drive. I will
meet with teachers who don’t respond to my emails. Once I have confirmation from the SS
teachers, I will speak with Ms. Bagley to request a “field trip pass” during the appropriate
periods. The week following midterms, I will reserve a mobile lab for the necessary days. In
early March, I will begin a media campaign to prepare students for the drive. I will put posters
and flyers all over the school so students know to bring in their SSN or driver’s license during
the appropriate week. I will also email Mr. Zehe and the Social Studies teachers to obtain their
individual approval for the “hijacking” of their class during preset periods. In the third week of
February, I will begin to air announcements on the intercom and television to ensure that all
students are aware of the registration drive. During the weeks of March 14th and 21st, I will email
teachers asking them to remind their students to bring in their SSN or license. I will also visit
each teacher’s classroom to ensure they have posters for the drive put up near their homework
boards. will also ask teachers to provide extra-credit to students who do participate. Preliminary
discussion with Mr. Zehe suggests that many teachers will refuse.

Works Cited
DelReal, A. Hose. “Voter Turnout in 2014 was the lowest since 2014.” The Washington Post. 10
Nov. 2014. Web. 7 Jan. 2015.
“UPDATE – 21.5% Youth Turnout: Two-Day Estimate Comparable to Recent Midterm Years.”
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRLCE). Tufts
University Jonathan M. Tisach College of Citizenship and Public Service. 5 Nov. 2014.
Web. 7 Jan. 2015.