By Alex Bridges
Voter registration in Frederick County gets a boost each year with the help of drives aimed at high school seniors.
Frederick County Registrar Rick Miller plans to hold drives at each of the three high schools this month. The first drive begins today at James Wood High School.
"Basically what I'm doing at each of the three high schools [is] I'm going in, teaching the government classes and registering as many of the seniors who will be 18 by the next general election," Miller said in a recent interview.
While the educational sessions are focused on the students, the drives are public. As Miller explained, anyone who does not attend the school but is interested in registering to vote would be directed to the main office where forms would be made available. Miller said he would then take the completed forms back to the registrar's office.
"It can't just be for a specific group," Miller said. "It has to be for everybody, so that's why we publicly advertise it as we are required to do."
General registrars for Shenandoah and Warren counties don't hold drives in the high schools. Superintendents with each of the two county school systems said they are unaware of any formal registration drives held for students in the schools or by the government teachers.
Shenandoah County registrar Lisa McDonald said by email that teachers know that her office remains available as a resource. Teachers may use at their discretion any methods to educate students about voter registration and elections.
"With voter registration becoming increasingly accessible for all citizens, forms can be downloaded directly from the Internet and recently, due to new legislation, a person (including students) may register online from any computer," McDonald said.
Warren County registrar Carol Tobin said she was not aware of any formal drives scheduled in the school system this year.
But Miller's registration drives, after nine years, remain successful. Miller holds the drives over two days, which he said is needed to teach students in all of the government classes about the voting process and registration.
Each series of drives usually result in about 600 registrations, Miller said.
"So it's well worth it," Miller said.
Any student who wishes to register may do so at that time but registration is not required. Some students choose not to register, he said.
"It's a convenience to get the word out on how important voting is and, of course, what we just went through in November with the recount it certainly would be a great example to show one vote does make a difference," Miller added.
Frederick County's drives are scheduled as follows:
• Today and Friday at James Wood High School, 161 Apple Pie Ridge Road
• Jan. 23-24 at Millbrook High School, 251 First Woods Drive
• Jan. 30-31 at Sherando High School, 185 S. Warrior Drive
All drives will be held from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., though weather may affect the scheduled dates.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org