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Iowa Secretary Of State Launches High School Voter Registration Effort

paul pate
Katarina Sostaric
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announces a new effort to register high school students to vote.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced Tuesday he is making a new push to register more high school students to vote.

And more high school students are eligible to participate now that a new law allows 17-year-olds to register to vote. They can also participate in primaries and caucuses if they will turn 18 in time for the November general election.

“Iowa’s at the center of the political universe right now with the Iowa caucuses rapidly approaching,” Pate said. “We also have city and school elections coming up Nov. 5. So it’s a great time for our young people to get engaged in the process.”

Pate said 2018 was a record year for 18-to-25 year olds voting in Iowa, but he said it’s always a challenge to increase voter turnout in that age group.

“With all the candidates running for president right now in Iowa, I think you’ll see a big push for college voter registrations in Iowa,” Pate said. “But the high schools are more challenging because of the way they’re structured. So we hope this effort will bring them along with it and I think we can see some pretty serious numbers come out when it comes to registering and voting.”

Schools that register 90 percent of eligible students to vote can get the new Carrie Chapman Catt Award, named after a leader in the national women’s suffrage movement.

“I believe this new Carrie Chapman Catt Award….carries out Catt’s vision, and that is to prize and use your right to vote,” said Dianne Bystrom, former director of the Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University.

Pate said his office will be reaching out to high schools about participating.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter