Observer News Enterprise

League of Women Voters of Catawba Valley collaborat­es with Hickory High School

- BY KATE WIMBERLY

In the Fall of last year, Priya Palmer, who serves as the membership chair, treasurer, and an officer on the board for The League of Women Voters of Catawba Valley, collaborat­ed with Shannon Furr, Social Studies teacher at Hickory High School, to engage more in the student population.

As a product of discussion with the rest of the board, Palmer reached out to Furr to ask what the organizati­on could do to better serve students in the community.

During the planning phase, the COVID-19 pandemic still impacted face to face interactio­ns, so together they came up with the idea of a filmed interview. Students would create and send in questions to be answered during the interview. Palmer brought in Amanda Duncan, Director of the Catawba County Board of Elections.

What began as a way to engage students to join the league, became so much more as a visually educative tool for area social studies teachers to use in the classroom to connect students with local government in a practical and real way.

“They were very interested in what the board of elections does.

I had no idea what the questions would be. It was very focused on how the board of elections works, and Amanda gave a very clear picture of that. It showed the fact that the BOE is fair and nonpartisa­n. There are strict rules to follow, and they do not veer from those rules. It showed they have a protocol to follow, that there can’t be any shenanigan­s. It’s the law,” shared Palmer.

They sent the video out to all Catawba County High Schools, both public and private. They emailed it specifical­ly to those teaching social studies as a tool for them to use in their classes.

“Shannon thought a good time would be this year before the primaries. We did the interview in March, which was a product on how the board of elections works and general informatio­n related to elections. I appreciate the fact that Shannon came up with the

interview, Amanda was available to interview, and the students came up with the questions. It was a great collaborat­ion,” stated Palmer.

The League of Women Voters of Catawba Valley (LWVCV) is a nonpartisa­n grassroots organizati­on “dedicated to empowering voters and defending democracy,” according to Tiffany Canaday, the League’s president. The league is open to men, women, and students ages 16 and up. For students who are in school ages 16-26, membership is free.

Palmer stated that after the success of this project, they are looking for more ways to branch out and partner with local schools. “I think this is more exciting for us because we also have a team of folks working with UCHS. We’re trying to get our feet wet with two schools and seeing how we can help. Based on that, next year we will branch out. It is a trial for us as well,” said Palmer.

As of this year, the BOE started allowing high school kids from 17 and up to work at the polls on election day, and they are called “Student Election Assistants”. The North Carolina General Assembly passed the law in 2003 allowing high school students to work in the polls on election day, if they meet certain requiremen­ts, which can be found here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/ dl.ncsbe.gov/Forms/Student%20Election%20Assistan­t%20Guide.pdf.

The LWVCV would like to remind the community regarding the primaries:

- The last day to request an Absentee Ballot is May 10

- You can register & vote at Early Voting, and it ends on May 14

- Election Day is May 17

- Use Vote411, the League’s signature tool, to verify your voter registrati­on, confirm polling location, see what their personal ballot will look like, and compare candidate responses to League questions. Confirming this informatio­n before heading to the polls saves voters time and helps them make informed decisions.

For more informatio­n, visit https://lwvcv.org/. The interview can be found at https://www.youtube.com/ channel/UCi4q4GThQ­kBsw_WKTp93UA.

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