Approximately 300 senior students at Helena High school participated in a voter registration drive and mock election on October 30. In what has become an annual event, students had the opportunity to become registered voters and to cast a sample ballot on a real voting machine.
The registration drive was designed to familiarize students with what happens on Election Day and to make them more comfortable with going to the polls in the future. The drive was organized by American Government and Economics teachers Laura Barnes and Dale Massey, who worked with the Shelby County Probate Court and Disability Rights and Resources, an advocacy organization.
Mrs. Kim Melton, chief clerk of the Shelby County Probate Court, and Mrs. Allison Boyd, Legal Counsel to the Probate Judge, were on hand to answer students’ questions about elections and how they are run on the county level. They also provided the voting machines for students to use. 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.
For many students, this was their first experience seeing an actual voting machine and the format of a sample ballot. Students expressed that being able to register at school and to practice casting a ballot helped them understand how the process works and gave them confidence about being able to exercise their right to vote in the future.
“Mr. Massey and I would like to especially thank Mrs. Melton, Mrs. Boyd, Mrs. Brown for their assistance in coordinating this opportunity for our students,” said Mrs. Barnes. “We would also like to thank Shelby County Probate Judge Fuhrmeister for the help of his staff and his efforts to help educate the students of Shelby County about voter registration.”