Statewide Competition Underway for Iowa Students As New Law Takes Effect

DES MOINES, Iowa -- High school students have a new challenge before them: Get at least 90 percent of eligible classmates registered to vote and they can get a trophy. It is part of Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate's new initiative that he announced on Tuesday.

"Iowa is at the center of the political universe right now with the Iowa Caucuses rapidly approaching," Pate said, "We also have city and school elections coming up November 5th, so it’s a great time for young people to get involved in the process."

A new state law allows 17-year-olds to vote in the June primary election, as long as they turn 18 by the November general election. Paul announced a new effort to coincide with that to urge students to get registered. If schools achieve 90 percent registration of eligible students, they will earn the Carrie Chapman Catt Award, named in honor of the state's suffrage champion who helped to get women the right to vote in 1920. 

Doctor Dianne Bystrom, the retired director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women & Politics at Iowa State University, wrote part of the Elections101.org curriculum, which now includes women's voting rights' achievements. "The vote has been costly it. Prize it. The vote is a power. Understand what it means and what it can do for your country. Use it wisely, confidently and prayerfully," Bystrom said as she quoted Catt on the day women finally earned the right to vote in 1920.

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