Teacher cooperation proved to be the difference between Burbank and Burroughs high schools in the fourth annual voter registration campaign, known as the Clerk’s Cup, hosted by the Burbank City Clerk’s Office and the Burbank Unified School District.
Both schools combined for more than 200 registrations or pre-registrations with Burbank High holding onto the cup for a fourth consecutive time.
According to Burbank City Clerk Zizette Mullins, the school totaled 146 voter registration or pre-registration sign-ups, while Burroughs tallied 57.
“It’s really wonderful to see the hard work done by students at both schools,” Mullins said before the final city council meeting of this year held last week. “This is the next generation that will be voting and we’re happy for the involvement.”
Mullins said during the council meeting that the contest was created a few years back “to start a healthy competition between high school students” and ultimately “to see how many students they can actually register and pre-register to vote.”
The competition was held during November with the goal set by Mullins to register or pre-register as many students as possible.
Students who registered and turn 18 by March 3 will be eligible to vote in California’s primary election on that date.
Pre-registration begins as early as 16 years old for teenagers and allows them to vote immediately when they become eligible.
Mullins, along with Burbank Unified clerk Steve Frintner and Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, presented the cup to Burbank High School teacher Doug Grimshaw during the council meeting.
Grimshaw said the secret to his school’s success was help from supportive instructors.
“All the teachers who participated in school, from the U.S. history classes to government and economics classes, they were enthusiastic about taking a little extra time and talking to their students and handing out registration forms individually,” said Grimshaw, an economics teacher.
Mullins held information sessions at Burbank and Burroughs highs and said she was impressed with Grimshaw’s ability to communicate.
“Let me tell you, he can pack an auditorium,” Mullins said of Grimshaw and her visit to Burbank High. “I was there from 8 a.m., and I finished a little after [noon].”
Burroughs’ grass-roots effort, on the other hand, was student-driven and led by seniors Arya Desai and Alyssa LeBarron, co-directors of activism for their school’s Junior State of America Club.
“It was actually really difficult to recruit just because we had to do most of our work during lunch hours,” Desai said.
“Everyone is so busy at lunch with extracurriculars, eating, taking a break or hanging out with friends, so we’re happy we were able to register some,” she said.
LeBarron said the pair asked several instructors for “about 10 to 15 minutes” of class time but only a few obliged their request.
“It was difficult to get teachers to take class time even when we explained we were going to talk about voter registration and local government,” LeBarron said.
“So many of our peers are busy during lunch, so it was tough; I’m not going to lie,” she said.
Mullins presented the Burroughs duo with a certificate of appreciation and offered words of gratitude during the council meeting.
Desai said the most satisfying part of the work came from converting a few students who were otherwise not interested in voting.
“When you see someone who didn’t care about the democratic process suddenly care, it’s worth it,” she said.