It’s unfortunate that young Americans, ages 18-29, are the least likely to vote, despite the fact that their lives are affected the longest by the decisions of elected officials. One 18-year-old is trying to change that by encouraging students to find their voices in a way that appeals to them, and that works.
It all began when Michael Gershoni, a high school senior at David Posnack High School in Plantation, FL, noticed that less than a handful of students in his class were registered to vote. To encourage his peers to get involved and stay informed, the teen decided to launch a web site www.mystudentvote.com. The site offers step-by-step directions to register in each of the 50 states and has received widespread praise from numerous educators and public officials.
I had the pleasure of volunteering with Gershoni on the John McCain primary campaign. He’s smart and articulate and is passionate about political issues. Not surprisingly, this makes him a passionate conservative Republican and one who can do much to affect the world for the better.
Gershoni also wants other students to be informed. He doesn’t seek to force them toward his view. He simply seeks to educate and to inspire his peers to become passionate in their informed beliefs. While it’s true that informed people, who actually analyze issues, will generally become conservative, Gershoni says that it is not his goal to lead them there, rather to get them to examine the issues on any level.
“To get students involved, we need for them to be informed,” says Gershoni. “No one is going to vote if they don’t understand the issues.” The site shows students how issues affect their lives and allows them to find out which candidate is most in line with their views.
The website currently offers primary info, information on the major political parties, bios of each of the candidates and links to volunteer for each of the campaigns. Additionally, it hosts a Student Vote Initiative Program in which students motivate their peers to register on the site, often earning community service hours for their participation.
The initiative has earned the praise of Lt. Col. Allen West, a candidate for US Congress (FL-22) and former high school teacher in Deerfield Beach. “We need to bring students into the political process. Michael’s site shows students how their votes really do affect their lives. He has no agenda and is careful to feature candidates of both parties in an informative manner that relates to students and to their concerns. His ingenuity is rare and should be admired.”
Gershoni is described by his classmates as a natural leader. His persuasiveness is what brought over 90% of his classmates over the age of 18 to register to vote for the first time. Gershoni isn’t stopping there. His website has received over 45,000 hits over the last two months. New students are logging on every day to check out the platforms of the various candidates and are registering to vote.
“We are very pleased with the results,” says Gershoni, “but honestly, there’s so much more to do. It’s my goal to have 10,000 students registered through the site before the general election.” And if you ask his classmates, Gershoni just might pull it off.
We need more Michael Gershonis and this story should inspire people of all ages to influence others to be informed and to become politically active. Society will be better off for it. To find out more about the site, the candidates or to register to vote, visit http://www.mystudentvote.com.
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