Registering young people to vote is a win-win for democracy.


Because young adults become eligible to register to vote when they are 17 years and 10 months of age, Texas high schools have a unique opportunity to encourage seniors to start the lifelong habit of voting. Recognizing this, the Legislature passed a somewhat unusual law in the early 1980's that requires school principals or their designated deputy to hand out voter registration cards to eligible students twice a year.

Unfortunately, principals are overburdened, and it's not clear if this law is more often followed or forgotten. A tweak could help make it more effective.

The Texas Education Agency and the Texas Secretary of State should work together to enact a policy that would allow teachers of government, economics and social studies to distribute and collect these forms. There should be a way for principals to automatically deputize these teachers as registrars for their schools without going through a lot of red tape.

Educators extol the benefits of experiential learning. The registration of young voters could be woven into the relevant teachers' curricula and would help make the law, not just another law on the books but a powerful tool in engaging young people in the democratic process.

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