RI Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore visits Middletown High Tuesday to speak to students about the importance of voting and their voice in the political process. #MiddletownRI #Amore #RISecretaryOfState #RhodeIsland
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Matt Sheley at (401) 842-6543 or firstname.lastname@example.org
RI SECRETARY OF STATE URGES STUDENTS
TO GET INVOLVED, MAKE A DIFFERENCE
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (MARCH 7, 2023) – Gregg M. Amore said in some places, voter suppression is very much alive in today’s America.
Rhode Island’s new Secretary of State told students during a lunch hour visit Tuesday to Middletown High it could be something seemingly benign as charging postage to return a ballot, having only one day to vote or a fee to get a voter ID.
From the Valley Road school’s library, Amore said thankfully, Rhode Island officials — including his office — are doing whatever they can to expand rights to all eligible voters, including a push to allowing certain 17-year-olds to vote in primaries.
The well-received presentation was part of Rhode Island Civic Learning Week and one of close to 20 similar talks Amore has planned across The Ocean State this year.
“The polls are open from 7 am-7 pm and I’m a young mother with three kids who’s working two jobs and taking a course at night and I have to drop my child off…to daycare and then I have to get to work and get to my next job and then I have to log in to take my course at night to make sure I’m bettering my situation and helping my family, the day is gone,” Amore said. “I didn’t get to vote. That’s a big deal. We have lots of folks in America that say ‘That should be it. Election Day and Election Day only. What about (that young mother)?”
Amore — and educators on hand — agreed, encouraging students to get involved in the political process, whether it was locally in Middletown or beyond.
“It’s about maintaining power,” Amore said of voter suppression. “It’s your job to call that out. Any time you have an opportunity to call that out, you should call it out. It’s incredibly important.”
Afterward, students in the audience said Amore’s message hit home. Several commented how they were impressed that before becoming Secretary of State, Amore was a teacher, something that clearly showed in his presentation, which didn’t rely on any notes.
Asked about whether they were aware of voter suppression in other areas, juniors Gwen Delaney and Olivia Dube said that and other portions of Amore’s presentation were eyeopening.
“It’s sad and I say that because it’s not surprising there’s voter suppression,” Gwen said. “I guess I didn’t really think about it in the way he put it, but it’s a really good point.”
“Honestly, I’d never thought about it that way,” Olivia said. “It makes me think a lot more about how to view this when it comes up again.”
And despite what some adults might think, Gwen and Olivia agreed that people there age were much more engaged and interested in politics and the world around them than they might believe.
“Obviously, not everyone is engaged, but most of us here are,” Gwen said. “There’s a lot that goes into the process and I think the more we’re a part of it, the better it is for everyone."
Opening the presentation with Humanities Director Christopher Richards, Principal Jeff Heath said one of the aspects of education he finds most important is civic engagement.
“What’s the endgame for you going to public school, particularly (kindergarten) through (grade) 12 schooling? Why are you here?” Heath said. “A lot of people think it’s for training for jobs or being able to make more money at some point in their career or learning about the year the Constitution was ratified. For me, it’s 1,000 percent about becoming engaged and critical thinking as democratic citizens in a democratic society."
In the audience, social studies teacher Jennifer Haskell said there was no doubt that most young people were more aware of the world around them than adults realized or appreciated. And having events like the visit by Amore would only heighten that interest, she said.
“In my (Advanced Placement) Government and Politics class, there was a spark with our civil rights section that was so great to see,” Haskell said. “It really connected with them and we had some wonderful discussions and all positions were represented. One of the big things we really focus on is that no one’s opinion is wrong and learning to respect different opinions because not everyone is going to think like you or come at an issue from the same perspective that you do.”
Nearby, State Senator Louis P. DiPalma and State Representative Terri Cortvriend listened intently to Amore and the students.
“Just like Gregg said, the sooner we can get students thinking about their role in the process, the better,” Cortvriend said. “It’s shown time and again the more they’re involved now, the more likely that’s going to take place in the future.”
“This is an important day for me to be here along with the Secretary of State and so many others,” DiPalma said. “I want to be here, right up front so they realize their representatives are real people who care about what they have to say and their futures.”
Document Link: https://www.middletownri.com/DocumentCenter/View/7813/NYCU-Amore