On Wednesday, March 23, The National Education Association and Rock the Vote celebrated the 40th anniversary of the passing of the 26th Amendment with the first annual Democracy Day to promote civic engagement in young people and register them to vote.
Across the nation, more than 900 educators taught Rock the Vote’s Democracy Class lesson, a 45-minute non-partisan lesson plan where students learned the history of voting rights, walked through the voter registration process, and engaged in a mock election. The lesson plan also incorporates music, pop culture, video, and classroom discussion.
Celebrities and politicians across the country also took part in the celebration.
At Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, Darren Criss, star of Fox’s Glee, spoke of the importance of voting.
“The voting process can be a bit overwhelming and at times confusing, particularly for first-time voters,” Criss explained. “I’m very excited to be a part of such a comprehensive effort that both educates and encourages young people about the importance of their vote.”
An ongoing campaign, Democracy Day will continue to register 18-year-olds to encourage civic engagement among young people.
“Teachers and young people fought hard 40 years ago for 18-year-olds to have the right to vote, and we are excited to offer a program to classrooms around the country that can help high school students exercise that right,” Rock the Vote President Heather Smith said.
“Turning 18 and becoming eligible to vote is a tremendous rite of passage. Junior and senior year of high school is the ideal moment to connect with young people, and give them the tools to become life-long voters and participants in our country’s democracy.”
The 26th Amendment was passed faster than any Constitutional amendment in history.
Almost 13,000 young people turn 18 every day and by 2012, the Millennial generation will account for 24 percent of the voting age population.
Rock the Vote has registered more 18-25 year olds to vote than any other organization and the event coincided with 20 other similar assemblies in places such as Los Angeles, South Carolina, Virginia and Cleveland.