New award available for Iowa schools with 90% of eligible students registered to vote

DES MOINES — Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is launching a new initiative to encourage eligible high school students to get registered to vote.

“Iowa’s at the center of the political universe right now with the Iowa Caucuses rapidly approaching,” Pate said during a statehouse news conference. “It’s a great time to get our young people engaged in the process.”

A new state law allows 17-year-olds to register and vote in the June 2020 primary if they will be 18 years old by November 3rd, 2020. That’s the date of the General Election. Iowa schools that get at least 90 percent of eligible students registered to vote will receive the new “Carrie Chapman Catt” award.

“Iowan Carrie Chapman Catt was a national leader in the women’s suffrage movement,” Pate said. “We want to recognize and honor her struggle and success in this important milestone in our nation’s history.”

The 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote was ratified by the State of Iowa 150 years ago.

“Carrie Chapman Catt dedicated 33 years of her life to the women’s suffrage movement and that involved three generations of activists over a 72-year span,” said retired Iowa State University professor Dianne Bystrom, the former director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.

Bystrom is the primary author of a chapter about Carrie Chapman Catt that has been added to what’s called “Elections 101.” It’s a free online resource for teachers. It includes lesson plans on a variety of election-related topics, like the Iowa Caucuses.

Pate, who is Iowa’s top election official, is encouraging Iowa schools to hold voter registration drives for students on September 24th. That’s National Voter Registration Day.