The Fair Lawn League of Women Voters and students from the high school are working in collaboration this election cycle to encourage residents to vote in the Nov. 6 election, now less than three weeks away.
You may have seen their handiwork around town in the form of cardboard cut-out silhouettes affixed with essays about the importance of voting.
Students from the high school's Political Institute elective and AP United States History II classes compiled the essays, informed by interviews with citizens who shared personal anecdotes, recollections and opinions on why voting matters to them. The 20 "Why I Vote" silhouettes are displayed throughout the borough at some of its most prominent public institutions — the library, community center, municipal building and the high school — and will be rotated over the course of this month.
One essay, submitted by an anonymous naturalized citizen, reminds potential voters that the opportunity to cast a ballot in a free and open election is not a given in other parts of the world. Another essay, crafted by an anonymous black voter, rehashes the struggles African Americans went through to vote, even after the 15th amendment was ratified.
"This year's project...is a wonderful collaboration between young future voters and the League of Women Voters," said Ilene Kahn, president of the League's Fair Lawn chapter. "A presidential election year provides a good opportunity to get a lot of attention and we want to capitalize on that to get out the vote."
Voter turnout in Fair Lawn has dipped steadily each year since the last presidential election, when 77.6 percent of registered voters turned out to the polls. Last year, only 38.8 percent of registered voters cast ballots.
Even fewer residents vote in Board of Education races. Less than 20 percent of registered voters, or just 3,817 of the 32,669 residents of the borough, showed up to vote last April.
Kahn said the League, a non-partisan organization whose mission is to encourage informed citizens to participate in government, wants to remind voters that Board of Education candidates, who had previously been on the ballot in April, will appear on the November ballot for the first time this year.
Six school board candidates are vying for three seats on the Board of Education.
The League of Women Voters and the PTA Council of Fair Lawn are sponsoring a debate for Board of Education candidates on Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. in Borough Hall.