City Clerk Tim Spanos and Peabody High PTSO co-chairs Beverley Griffin Dunne and Claire McDonough spent a couple hours Thursday in the school cafeteria during lunch periods, answering students' questions and even registering several to vote on Nov. 6.
The idea for the voter registration drive came from Dunne and McDonough. They called up Spanos and replied that he'd be "glad to do it."
Neither Spanos, Dunne or McDonough could say how many students there might be who are 18 and eligible to vote. "We may capture a few kids who actually want to vote," said Dunne, noting it is after all a presidential election year.
"It seemed like a nice opportunity to let them speak with the City Clerk and ask questions," she said.
The registration deadline is Oct. 17 and Dunne added that some students might not realize they can still register to vote as long as they turn 18 by Nov. 6.
Social Studies Department Head Ken McCue teaches two Advanced Placement politics and government classes himself and says he's certainly been talking with his students about voting rights and the current political races involving Massachusetts, in addition to the presidential race.
He said he and other teachers do pass on voter registration cards to students who are eligible to vote.
Principal Ed Sapienza has also made announcements to students about registering to vote.
Spanos said Thursday that years ago the clerk's office did conduct regular voter drives, but ever since the Motor Voter Act of 1993 (formally known as the National Voter Registration Act), the new law essentially did away with the need to bring the forms to the voters by allowing them to register by mail, at the Registry of Motor Vehicles or at government offices that offered public assistance.
These days, you can even just print out your registration form off the Secretary of State's website and mail it in to the City Clerk's office.
That being said, about 15 eligible high school students signed up Thursday to vote by the end of the second lunch period and Spanos was able to answer general voting questions from several of those students. Those who did sign up on the spot, got a sticker from Spanos that read: "I registered to vote today."
His message to students?
"Elections are important...whether it's the presidential, state or city. You're choosing who will represent you," Spanos said. "If you don't vote....there may be people who get in who you don't want to see there."