The city wants its high school students to become active civic participants.
As part of a Civics for All initiative, the city distributed voter registration forms to high schools across the city on Monday, so as to register students who are 18 or will be by the midterm elections on Nov. 6.
The Student Voter Registration Day has been held annually since 2015 and has registered more than 10,000 students at more than 70 high schools in the city, according to data available on the New York City Campaign Finance Board website. Monday’s campaign marks the first-ever citywide effort, according to the mayor’s office.
“Young people across the nation have been speaking up loudly for their values,” Mayor Bill de Blasio, who inaugurated the campaign at Upper West Side’s Manhattan Hunter Science High School, said in a statement. “To sustain real change, we must bring that activism to the ballot box.”
The initiative is part of a larger DemocracyNYC campaign highlighted by de Blasio in his State of the City address in February, which detailed the need for increased civic engagement from New Yorkers.
Under that plan, the mayor is asking Albany to pass reforms such as same-day registration, pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds and automatic registration for when they turn 18, and allowing absentees to vote without needing to provide an excuse.
“Voting matters — but with all the barriers that new voters face before getting to the ballot box, it’s harder than ever for young people to make their voices heard,” city Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a statement. “When it comes to the issues facing our city, from climate change to accessible transit options, the stakes are highest for our young people.”
The Civics for All initiative geared toward young New Yorkers also includes curricula for all students that highlights civic responsibilities and freedoms, with the program for grades six to eight piloting this fall, according to the mayor’s office.
In an effort to instill a sense of democracy in students, the city will also allocate $2,000 to each public high school in a participatory budgeting initiative, similar to one rolled out by the City Council. Students will be able to determine how and when the money is spent, in a pilot program at select schools beginning in the fall, according to the mayor’s office.
Other programs include training teachers in civic curricula and dispensing resources to keep students apprised of major government events such as elections and Supreme Court decisions.