Fewer than half of the voting population votes in most elections. Here in California, the problem is worse! One of us has 14 years’ experience with Election Protection in California, New Mexico, and Colorado. She found that going to unfamiliar states and cities did not help much to protect voters and get them to the polls.
From this, she developed the idea of serving local “blocks” as a voting assistant and arranger for voter forums in the neighborhood. We call it the “Our Block” civics program. Students from sophomore to senior year in high school would be able to earn extra credit in school by working in their own neighborhoods to register and empower voters.
Why not precincts instead of blocks?
- The precinct does not have borders that are easy for people to remember.
- Voting sites can change from election to election.
- The program intends to focus on the neighborhood directly surrounding the student’s or volunteer’s home.
Will volunteers be supporting or opposing candidates?
- No; volunteers will not be for or against candidates or issues within school programs.
- The “Our Block” program aims to be nonpartisan in all its aspects.
- What volunteers do on their time outside of these roles is their own business.
Can students serve as poll workers?
- Yes. Alameda County encourages students to work at the polls. See bottom of page for downloadable application.
- Groups of students can band together to earn money for special projects.
- Bilingual students are especially welcome at polling places.
Will all county schools offer this program?
- Students must check with their own school to see if the “Our Block” program is offered.