The News of The Blake School Since 1916

The Spectrum

The News of The Blake School Since 1916

The Spectrum

The News of The Blake School Since 1916

The Spectrum


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I Will Vote: Registration Streamlined

Minnesota Secretary of State publicizes new voting pre-registration law for 16 & 17-year-olds, League of Women Voters hosts registration drive
Cleo Kilpatrick
Prior to his presentation during assembly, MN Secretary of State Steve Simon spoke with students in the Juliet Nelson Auditorium.

On Sept. 20, just a day after National Voter Registration Day, Minnesota’s Secretary of State Steve Simon visited the Upper School to promote a newly passed law that allows for 16 and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote in advance of their 18th birthday. 

Simon started his visit in N’Jai-An Patters’AP Government and Politics class with “a pretty robust 25 minutes of just Q & A,” as Social Studies Department Chair Beth Calderone explained. 

“The [Advanced Placement] Government class read Ari Berman’s book “Give Us the Ballot” [over the summer] which is a history of the modern-day struggle for voting rights,” Calderone said. “so they were really primed to talk about voting rights [and] the timing was really excellent for his visit.”

Simon then addressed the entire Upper School during assembly about the new pre-registration policy and the importance of voting. 

“I think the good part about pre-registration is that it gets 16 and 17-year-olds thinking about themselves as voters even before they are actually voters,” Simon said. “The reason that’s good is we know if people do that, they’re much more likely to go vote the first time they are eligible at 18, 19, 20, whatever, and if they do that, they are much more likely to make it a lifetime habit.” 

Calderone said in agreement, “I think that as we started this first year of our 10th-grade civics class, it’s right in line with the kinds of goals we have for our newly developed 9th-12th scope and sequence. In Social Studies, we just want an increased emphasis in civic participation and civic discourse across the entire political spectrum.” She added, “It seemed like a nice event to kick off the year.”

Simon has been visiting high schools all over the state to promote this new law that allows for pre-registration. The law, known as the Democracy for the People Act, was signed by Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz on May 5. Already this fall, Simon has visited schools in Albert Lea, Rochester, and Minneapolis. 

“We didn’t get a super great answer on [why he came here,]” Calderone explained. “The students in the AP Government class actually asked that, and he simply said he is interested with the passage of the new law this spring. He really thinks it is the mission of his office to make sure that he goes to schools and educates high school students about this opportunity.”

Coinciding with Simon’s visit, the League of Women Voters held a voter registration drive. While they’ve held this event annually at the Upper School for over a decade, this year, their targeted demographic expanded beyond just the senior class to include students in 10th and 11th grade as well. 

Lucia Vera ’24 pre-registered to vote with the League of Women Voters on Wednesday, Sept. 20. (Cleo Kilpatrick)

League of Women Voters representative and parent of two Blake alumni, Liz Weir, explained their purpose: “Our whole goal is to get people to register to vote. Democracy depends on everyone who is eligible to vote.” She continued, “We have to represent ourselves and what we see as interesting or in our own self-interest, as Secretary Simon said. So the more voters, the stronger the democracy, whatever party you vote for.”

Calderone held a similar sentiment. “Because [Simon is] partisan, because he’s a Democrat that’s holding office right now statewide, obviously we’re honored to have someone like that come to Blake and also I wasn’t sure of the nature of [his] message. And yet voting really should ought to be a non-partisan issue.” She continued, “I was delighted to hear him say that in the small class, maybe not so much at the bigger speech, but I was pleased with the broader and larger message.” Calderone added, “Sort of staying above the fray and really hammering home the importance of it’s not really about who you’re voting for, or what the issues are, but it’s about civic participation and the importance of voting.” 

Weir emphasized the importance of voting as seniors look forward to college: “So many students, particularly in a school like this, are going to go out of state for their colleges, and the best thing to do, once you are registered, is to apply for an absentee ballot through the Secretary of State’s website.” She added, “Or if you want to be really strategic and think your vote will make more sense [or] have more weight wherever your college is, then you could register there. Don’t be put off because you are going to leave Minnesota for your college years, you can still vote.”

In addition to voting pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds, the Democracy for the People Act establishes automatic voter registration for people who interact with certain government agencies such as those applying for driver’s licenses and it creates a permanent absentee voter list that will automatically send ballots every election to those who sign up.

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About the Contributors
Mackenzie Higgins
Mackenzie Higgins, Editor Emerita
Hi, my name is Mackenzie and I am a senior this year! I have been writing for Spectrum since my freshman year and last semester, I was a Co-Editor-in-Chief along with the Creative Director and the Front Editor. This semester, I'm helping out with the features page. My favorite part of Spectrum is connecting with the school community and working with others in the newsroom. Outside of Spectrum and school, you can find me skiing, watching Criminal Minds, or drinking cold brew.
Cleo Kilpatrick
Cleo Kilpatrick, Editor Emerita
Hi, my name is Cleo, I'm a senior and began writing for Spectrum as a freshman. Last semester, I was the Variety, Photo, and Social Media Editor. I love taking photos and capturing fun moments with people. Outside of school my favorite things are running and spending time with friends and family.

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