Horace Greeley High School Students Get Out the Vote on Super Tuesday

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Every voice and every vote matters, at every level of government. When Greeley seniors Jon Zaidins and Chris Mezias formed their Election Club at the start of the school year, they did so with the goal of educating their fellow seniors on the power of the vote and the importance of registering to vote. At a recent joint Class of 2008 and Election Club event on Super Tuesday, over two dozen Greeley seniors joined together to fill out voter registration forms and share in the excitement of one of the most memorable evenings of the 2008 election season.

Every voice and every vote matters, at every level of government. When Greeley seniors Jon Zaidins and Chris Mezias formed their Election Club at the start of the school year, they did so with the goal of educating their fellow seniors on the power of the vote and the importance of registering to vote.

At a recent joint Class of 2008 and Election Club event on Super Tuesday, over two dozen Greeley seniors joined together to fill out voter registration forms and share in the excitement of one of the most memorable evenings of the 2008 election season. The evening featured County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz, who explained the local legislative process, discussed the distribution of delegates during the primary process, and shared strategies for sparking interest in elections and voting among high school students.

Kaplowitz was an extremely engaging speaker, involving everyone in his discussion and sparking an interest in politics. "Politics are often seen as a notoriously crooked business, where politicians are free to promise one thing and then go ahead and do another," said Brett Rosenberg, a senior who attended the event. "It's a very negative outlook, which I think alienates a lot of qualified people from going into politics. Legislator Kaplowitz put a human face to politics, and a humorous and personable one at that. He was an engaging speaker, and obviously very knowledgeable."

In addition to hearing Legislator Kaplowitz, students participated in a contest in which they predicted the outcome of five of the larger Super Tuesday states. The students with the closest predictions won gift certificates to local businesses such as Villarina's. "The contest was a great way to get people interested and engaged in the electoral process," said Zaidins. "Many students were not old enough to participate in the New York primaries despite being eligible to vote in November. Their participation was important as it kept them active in following the campaigns."

Both Zaidins and Mezias were determined to be active in the upcoming presidential elections because of their past work. In the week leading up to the 2004 Presidential Election, Mezias went door to door in Miami-Dade County, Florida, in order to increase voter turnout. Zaidins realized the importance of elections and politics on the local level after interning for County Legislator Kaplowitz over the summer; he had first-hand experience working on Legislator Kaplowitz's campaign for reelection. In August, the two students were discussing their past political involvement and their concerns for the voter turnout in the upcoming 2008 elections. They decided to combine their interests and experiences into a club dedicated to the elections.

The Election Club and Class of 2008 will sponsor one or two more events in the coming months. "We plan to show '18 in 08,' a documentary by an 18-year-old about youth empowerment in the election process. We also hope to attract a headline speaker to speak to the senior class about the power of the youth vote," explained Mezias. "We have extended invitations to Senator Obama, Senator Clinton, and President Clinton. If one of them is available, we may open the program to seniors at one or two other high schools so that we can reach a larger group of our peers."

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Stacey Cohen

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