Vermillion County Republican and Democratic leaders are working with the two county school districts to get all eligible high school students registered to vote.
The goal is to register all students who will turn 18 by the next general election, which is Nov. 4, 2014.
Tim Yocum, the Vermillion County Republican chairman, joined other Republican and Democratic party leaders at South Vermillion High School Wednesday to talk to juniors and seniors about the importance of registering to vote — and then voting.
“We want 100 percent of you registered to vote,” Yocum told the students, who had gathered in the school auditorium. North Vermillion School Corp. is nearing the 100 percent mark, he said.
“Our county needs you, our country needs you. You look at the leadership today and the way the world is going, the way our economy is going, the way our country is going, we need new voices, new leadership,” Yocum told them.
He added, “It would be wonderful to see some of you some day serving in some political office. Some of you can, some of you will.”
Registering “is not a Democrat or Republican issue,” he said.
Achieving 100-percent registration would be a “great accomplishment” that could earn the schools and community some positive publicity, he said.
He also would like to increase the proportion of Vermilion County registered voters who go to the polls, particularly among young people, he said. “We want to make this county different from the other counties.”
Also speaking to the students was Joanie Kanizer, Democratic Party chairwoman, and Florinda Pruitt, county clerk. “You are the future,” Kanizer told students.
Pruitt told them to educate themselves about the issues and to attend local government meetings. “You need to see the workings of government,” she said.
The goal is to get the students registered to vote by Thanksgiving, said Don Harman, South Vermillion High School principal. “Why would you not want to vote and to have a voice?” he asked students.
Students appeared enthusiastic about registering and making a difference.
Junior Maggie Scully said she plans to register. “Our age needs to get involved. It’s the future,” she said.
Senior Cameron Frasier also plans to register “so I can have a say in our government. I care about what goes on. I figure I should have a say.”
Those who don’t vote don’t have a say in what happens and then, “You just have to deal with” whatever decisions are made, he said.
He liked how Vermillion County party officials visited the school to talk to students.
Senior Megan Foster also plans to register to vote. “My adult friends and my parents would encourage it, and I want to have a say in our government,” she said. Also, “I don’t like how the national government is run right now and I want to have a say in the changes.”
She disagrees with the recent federal government partial shutdown and believes politicians in Washington are not working together enough to get things done.
Pruitt told students they can register online at www.indianavoters.com and they can also register in person at the county clerk’s office, among other places.
Trevor Smith, a social studies teacher at North Vermillion Junior/Senior High School, said about 70 percent of its eligible students are registered, and he’s also hoping for 100 percent.
He had 15 or 20 kids who didn’t have a driver’s license or state identification, but was working with Yocum to resolve those issues.
Smith said he emphasizes to students it’s their civic responsibility to register — and to vote.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.