Photo courtesy of Keegan Brooks
“We are here gladly registering 17 1/2 year old students to get registered to vote,” said Nadine Ali, the political action chair of voter outreach for the NAACP Dekalb County Branch. “[There is a] primary that’s coming up on May 24. And the deadline for anyone, whether you are a student [at least] 17 1/2 [years old] or an adult, you have to be registered by April 25 in order to vote in [the] May 24 primary election.”
Chamblee students during lunch on March 29 had the opportunity to register to vote thanks to volunteers from the NAACP DeKalb County Branch.
The requirements to register to vote in Georgia are that a person is a U.S. citizen, a legal resident of the county they are registering in, are at least 17 1/2 years old (and 18 years old to actually vote on election day), is not serving a sentence for the conviction felony involving moral turpitude, and has not been found mentally incompentent by a judge.
The process for students who were interested in registering to vote was relatively simple.
“The process is, asking them, they fill out the voter application and of course, we look over making sure everything is correct on the application. We get them to sign a consent form saying that it’s okay for us to send or give their voter application to [the] DeKalb County voter registration office,” said Ali.
Voting is a right some students are now eligible to participate in.
“It is so important for a young person […] to register the vote, to be a part of the political process of getting to know all about your local officials that [are] in your area where you live, getting to know the process of things to do in your community,” said Ali. “Voting gives you the empowerment to help make decisions, for instance, when legislation comes up. You are also exercising your right to vote for the person, the best candidate you think should be in office for that position, whether it is local, state or national.”
Students who registered to vote found the process straightforward.
“Honestly, it was pretty easy. I just filled out this form that had a whole bunch of questions that I knew, like I know my social security number and stuff, so just filled it out and bada bing bada boom, done,” said senior Nicholas Hirsch-Santagata (‘22). “I would like to show my thoughts and beliefs to the world. […] I think [voting] is a great idea for people to get involved.”
Some found it convenient that they were able to register to vote during the school day.
“I think it’s a really smart idea. It does help, them coming to us instead of us going to them and stuff, it’s just really easy. I think it was a really smart idea to get more people to think about it,” said senior Alysia Johnson (‘22).
However, others brought up concerns that lunch may not have been the best time for students.
“I think it’s nice that they are making it easier for people to register somewhere like school, where they’re here every day,” said senior Paige Durand (‘22). “I also think that at lunch people are kind of taking a mental break, so that might not be the best time. If they were [to] set up a station somewhere else, that would probably be better. But I think it’s nice that they’re making it easier for people to get to resources like that.”
Primary elections are being held on May 24 for many local and state-level offices. The deadline to register to vote is April 25
“I advise all 17 1/2 year olds to make sure that they get registered [to vote] and just be a part of the civic engagement in your community,” said Ali.