ADP is proud to partner with Rock the Vote (RTV) on Democracy Day. Given the current assault on student voting rights, I believe that this RTV initiative could not come at a better time. Stand with others across the nation and celebrate March 23 – the 40th anniversary of the 26th Amendment that gave 18-year-old citizens the right to vote. While the initiative below is geared toward high school students, I hope ADP campuses will find ways to celebrate the anniversary of the 26th Amendment as a way to show solidarity in the movement to protect youth voter rights. I also hope that the many ADP campuses involved in their local high schools will consider partnering with high school officials to celebrate March 23rd. – Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project
By Guest Blogger Eric Axelson, Rock the Vote
At a time when countries across Africa and the Middle East are protesting for democratic elections, here in America we’re celebrating the anniversary of our own voting rights. Forty years ago if you were under 21, you did not
have the right to vote. The U.S. was still fighting a war in Vietnam, meaning that thousands of young men 18 – 20 years old were drafted to fight, even though they couldn’t vote for the leaders that decided their fate. Other young people were in college, learning and preparing for careers, but could not vote for leaders in their community, let alone at a national level. And all across America, young, tax-paying citizens were denied the right to vote because of their age.
All of that changed on March 23rd, 1971, after a long battle led by students and teachers. The 26th Amendment was introduced that day, changing the voting age to 18, finally aligning the duties imposed by the government of paying taxes, registering for the draft, and qualifying as an adult with the right granted by the government to vote for its leaders.
To celebrate this momentous day, Rock the Vote, in conjunction with the National Education Association and the American Democracy Project, will be hosting the first-ever annual Democracy Day, starting on March 23rd and going until the end of the school year. On this day, schools nationwide will bring Rock the Vote’s high school civics program, Democracy Class, to their students, teaching them the importance of staying engaged through voting. In Democracy Class, students will learn the history of how we got the right to vote, see how issues that concern young people are affected by elections, and, most importantly, how to register to vote. Thousands of students will register to vote, or pledge to register when they turn 18, carrying on the legacy from 40 years ago.
If you are a high school student, work with high school students, or know educators who would be interested in hosting Democracy Day at their school, visit www.democracyday.com to sign up. Toolkits include: the lesson plan, a video on the history of voting rights, shirts, buttons, and a banner for the classroom. And to add to the fun, every teacher and student who participates in Democracy Day will be entered to win Rock the Vote prize packs including iPods, gift cards and tickets to the hottest concert in your hometown. Sign up here today!