Gresham Mayor urges youth to register to vote

September 25, 2018

Continuing Gresham City Council’s focus on children and families, Mayor Shane Bemis is urging youth to participate in National Voter Registration Day today, September 25. Mayor Bemis has joined the U.S. Conference of Mayors to promote electoral participation amongst the nation’s youth. In Gresham, the City’s Youth Advisory Council, Mt. Hood Community College, and local high schools are teaming up to encourage youth 16 and older to register to vote through handouts and a social media campaign.
“The health of representative democracy in America has always depended on participation,” said Mayor Shane Bemis. “The more people we can bring into self-governance, the better we will be as a republic. Let’s empower our youth to let their voices be heard.”

Today, the City’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC), a group of local high school students who provide guidance to City Council on issues affecting youth, will pass out voter registration instructions at their schools. Members of the YAC will educate their peers on the importance of every vote—for instance, the Gresham Barlow school bond passed by less than 2,000 votes and has a direct impact on every high school student in that district.
In Oregon, students can register to vote when they are just 16 years old. They won’t receive a ballot until the election after their 18th birthday. Registering online is easy at https://sos.oregon.gov/voting. If students wish to participate in the November elections, the registration deadline is October 16.

Participation in National Voter Registration Day is part of a series of efforts at the City focusing on Gresham’s youth, who make up a growing segment of the city. A quarter of Gresham’s population is under the age of 18. Earlier this year, students from area high schools participated in the City’s first-ever Youth Summit, where the topic of encouraging students to vote arose. Mayor Bemis is also chair of the new U.S. Conference of Mayors Youth Involvement Task Force, leading efforts to explore ways local mayors can engage with young people in their community to foster involvement in public service.