LITTLE SILVER, NJ - During the end of April and beginning of May, over two dozen Red Bank Regional (RBR) students were trained as voter registration ambassadors conducting a classroom to classroom voter registration drive of their peers. The students participated in the state-wide campaign, #MyVoiceMyVoteNJ, a collaboration of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey with the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, and New Jersey Social Studies Supervisors Association. The initiative provided ambassador credentials, wrist bands for those who registered, and a banner that adorned the voter registration table. The table was manned by students and faculty throughout the lunch periods to answer student questions and offer both voter registration and vote by mail ballot forms to students and staff. As a result, over 80 17 and 18 year-olds were registered by the ambassadors. RBR joined over 45 other high schools throughout the state that participated in the program which is expected to register over 3000 students.
Marisol Mondaca, a bilingual clinician at the RBR SOURCE (The high school’s School Based Youth Service Program) supervised the program along with Marianne Kligman, the schools Community Information Officer and long-time member of the Greater Red Bank League of Women Voters.
Voting is a special privilege that Mrs. Mondaca holds close to her heart. As a naturalized American citizen from Chile, she states, “I lived in a dictatorship for so long without having a right to vote. To me it is very important to exercise that right especially for minorities.”
RBR is a diverse school and its diversity was evident by the students who volunteered to conduct the voter registration drive.
Principal Risa Clay comments, “This was a really great cross section of kids of all ages and interests. In addition to instructing the students how to register to vote, they also encouraged them to exercise their right to vote.”
The students visited the study halls of all juniors and seniors. Only those who would turn 18 by the November election could register to vote, but they were also eligible to vote in the upcoming June primary if they were still 17. The students learned that many of their fellow classmates had previously registered to vote at Motor Vehicles, an option open to anyone when they obtain their driver’s license in the state of New Jersey. This was a law spearheaded by the League of Women Voters of New Jersey many years ago. Soon, a new law, known as the Voter Empowerment Act, may make voter registration automatic when a 17-year old earns their license. The bill has been approved by the full assembly and is awaiting a vote on the New Jersey Senate Floor. Governor Murphy is expected to sign it into law this year. However, in order to encourage the participation of our newest eligible voters, initiatives like # MyVoiceMyVoteNJ are necessary. #MyVoiceMyVoteNJ plans another voters’ registration drive in the fall when more schools are expected to participate.