Tahoe-Whittell rivalry has democratic bent | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe-Whittell rivalry has democratic bent

William Ferchland
Kylie Novasel, left, and Molly Cocking know the importance of youth voting but say students are busy with other distractions.
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Although it doesn’t have the flair of “Rumble in the Jungle,” a competition between Whittell and South Tahoe high schools could be titled the “Fight to File.”

Senior representatives at the two schools will compete to register the most seniors eligible to vote in November’s presidential election.

Even though the two school representatives have yet to contact each other, both agree the competition will be used more as an incentive to gather young voters.

“We have to get our voice out there,” said 18-year-old Kyle Olsen, Whittell’s senior class president. “We’re a huge voting group and this is going to be a controversial election, a very close election. The more people we can get to vote, no matter who they vote for, the better.”

“I think it’s a time in our life when we’re pushed to grow up and this is a good starter to get ourselves involved,” said Molly Cocking, senior class president of South Tahoe High School.

Olsen said his classmates are intelligent and opinionated and, based on his feelers, won’t need incentives to register.

South Tahoe students may need prodding – maybe free pizza slices – to register, Cocking said. Seniors are more concerned with tests and college than politics, she added.

“I think they’re not close to where they should be,” she said.

South Tahoe holds the advantage. Cocking and Director of Student Affairs Kylie Novasel distributed voter registration forms to classmates before last April’s special election.

“We’ve had (registration) drives throughout the year,” Novasel said.

“And we’re up for another,” Cocking added.

The two said their newest drive will begin after testing this month.

In addition, a student group called the Political Action Team has registered eligible voters at the high school.

According to a report called, “Neglection 2000” by the nonpartisan and nonprofit Third Millennium Project, voters between 18-24 experienced a low turnout at the polls for the 2000 presidential election. They were more attracted to the distraction of the Florida recount than the presidential campaign, the report stated.

“Perhaps it need not even be stated that young people were the least likely of any group to be interested in the 2000 campaign; this is an obvious problem and while the Florida brouhaha is part of an important democratic lesson, young people’s inattention to the campaign itself merits blame,” the report stated.

The registration drive between the two South Shore schools was instigated by Meyers resident Phil Steinberg.

“I’m interested in young people voting,” said Steinberg, who was prompted by a newspaper editorial about voter apathy among the youth. “I think that most of the young people are aware of what’s going on. They don’t have the time and that’s why I’ve been pitching absentee voting.”

Olsen is realistic about the numbers. South Tahoe has a senior class of more than 400, while Whittell’s graduating class numbers approximately 45. Both representatives said the competition will center on percentages.

Olsen has already started. Whittell senior Alison Dunleavy registered last month after being approached by Olsen.

“I think it’s just your duty as an American citizen,” she said. “If they give you this privilege you need to take advantage if it.”

– E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.


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