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Voting advocacy group ready to promote registration of youthful voters

This story was originally published by the Chico Enterprise-Record.

Organizing and activating eligible voters has always been one of the goals of the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan group that advocates for voter rights and greater involvement in the democratic process.

The league is renewing its efforts to register younger voters — ones who aren’t old enough to vote yet, but will become eligible the moment they turn 18.

Education Week is a League of Women Voters program during Sept. 18-22 that seeks to “pre-register” young voters by way of the state website, where 16- and 17-year-olds can get their names into the registration system and be ready to cast ballots following their 18th birthdays.

“We’re engaging teachers and principals,” said Butte County League of Women Voters co-president Janet Rechtman. “We’re trying to do more outreach for college students and younger people, all to ensure people can vote and that their votes count.”

The Butte County League of Women Voters has teamed with the Butte County Elections Division to distribute a “pre-registration toolkit” to high schools in the area. The toolkit includes flyers, posters, voter registration cards and a video link to the California secretary of state’s website.

Rechtman said Wednesday she has lived in Butte County almost five years — in fact, the purchase of her house closed the day before the Camp Fire of Nov. 8, 2018. Rechtman and her husband are transplants from Atlanta.

She has become heavily involved with the League of Women Voters after joining two years ago, now sharing the presidency with Satsie Veith.

“The league is all about empowering voters and defending democracy. I’ve been quite amazed to see all the different ways we do that,” Rechtman said.

“The league takes positions on issues but does not take positions on candidates. It tries to educate voters on pros and cons of ballot issues, and it tries to introduce candidates through our forum. All candidates are invited.”

One of the league’s big endeavors is registering voters.

“We’ve had outreach to register Hispanic voters” lately, she said.

The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 at the same time women received the right to vote in all federal, state and local elections that year. Gaining that right was the result of years of struggle, and since that success, the league has sought to protect and expand voting rights by way of advocacy and education.