Social studies teacher Brenda Fishman feels voting, locally or nationally, is essential. For years, Fishman encouraged her seniors to vote by helping those who were 18 to register. She provided forms that clearly defined the registration requirements, the kids turned in their proper materials, and Fishman would send their information in. But last spring, the county’s registration requirements changed.
Now, to register to vote, citizens must provide a valid birth certificate. Because of this, Fishman feels she has to cease her registration forms. Aside from her worries about potentially losing a student’s birth certificate, she has a moral opposition.
“I just feel very uncomfortable asking students to bring me a birth certificate so I can check to make sure they’re citizens,” Fishman said.
Fishman believes that a birth certificate isn’t necessary for 18-year-olds. She explains that if they have their driver’s license, they’ve already had to show their birth certificate at some point. However, the requirement still affects students from last spring, who needed only a driver’s license and social security number when they turned in their forms to Fishman.
Students that turned in their forms to her last spring submitted them before the changes, and have since gone off to college, leaving their registration now incomplete. Fishman fears that many of those students aren’t aware that they aren’t fully registered and that their votes won’t count.
College freshman and East graduate Annie Savage wasn’t aware of the registration changes.
“If I’m not technically registered then what’s the point of voting?” Savage said. “It still bothers me that I’m technically not a registered voter.”
Fishman’s drive to encourage students to vote hasn’t subsided. Fishman has been in contact with the League of Women Voters as well as other groups who have successfully registered kids at their high schools using online registration methods. Instead of giving out her old registration form, she would now spread the word about the website.
“That way they can do it from home, the birth certificate doesn’t have to leave their house and I think that might be easier for them anyhow,” Fishman said.