Approximately 250 senior students at Helena High school participated in a voter registration drive and mock election on Tuesday, October 4th, 2016. Students had the opportunity to become registered voters and cast a sample ballot on a real voting machine. The drive was designed to familiarize students with what happens on Election Day and to make them more comfortable with going to the polls in November.
The drive was organized by American Government and Economics teachers Laura Barnes and Dale Massey, who partnered with the Shelby County Probate Court and the advocacy organization Disability Rights and Resources. Kim Melton, chief clerk of the Shelby County Probate Court and Allison Boyd, Legal Counsel to the Probate Judge, loaned the voting machine and were on hand to answer students’ questions about the election process. Students were given a sample a ballot for Shelby County’s November election and a copy of the Alabama Voter Guide, published by the Alabama Secretary of State, John H. Merrill.
Mrs. Gwen Brown with Disability Rights and Resources gave a presentation to students on how to complete a voter registration form, how to request an absentee ballot, and how to locate your polling place. She also demonstrated how people with physical limitations or visual impairments may choose to use an adaptive voting machine.
“I learned about the actual voting process and how those with disabilities can still cast an anonymous vote. I feel that there is less pressure on me now because I know what to expect,” said Joe Putley, a senior AP Government student.
For many students, this was their first experience seeing an actual voting machine and the format of a sample ballot. Senior AP Government student Hannah Crowe said “it was really helpful to have the registering process held in school so I know that I won’t have to worry about it in the future. Seeing a ballot for the first time took a lot of pressure off the actual election, so I’ll be able to vote with confidence.”
“Registering to vote was a cool experience, especially since the clerk of the court personally came to help the students really understand what it is like to vote,” added AP Government student Adina Williams.
Barnes thanked Shelby County Probate Jude Fuhrmeister for his efforts and the help of his staff to educate students of Shelby County about voter registration.