Teacher’s voter registration idea nixed

An R-5 High School teacher who attempted to encourage his students to register to vote ran afoul of election laws, prompting School District 51 administrators to step in.

Al Kreinberg had planned to provide his students who were going to be 18 years old and eligible to vote by November the opportunity to register during class Thursday. Kreinberg said he had enlisted the help of the Barack
Obama campaign because of the proximity of the campaign headquarters, 844 Grand Ave., to the high school, 310 N. Seventh St., and he wanted them to help students navigate voter-registration forms.

“I just wanted to give students the opportunity to get involved with a major electoral process,” Kreinberg said.

The Obama campaigners would also have had Democratic campaign materials available for students if they wanted the resources, Kreinberg said, but they would not actively have been trying to sway students to the Democratic Party.

Susan Gregg, who is not involved with the school but describes herself as a concerned citizen, took issue with Kreinberg’s plans and called District 51 administrators to complain.

District spokesman Jeff Kirtland, who said he acted under the authority of Superintendent Tim Mills, told Kreinberg on Tuesday he could not register students with the Obama campaign assisting.

“I’m not against registering students at all, just how it was handled,” Gregg said. “It doesn’t matter what side it was, it should have been done fairly.”

Gregg said the Republican Party should have been given the same opportunity to distribute campaign materials.

She would not have complained if that were the case, she said.

Giving both parties equal access at R-5 High School would not have changed District 51’s response, Kirtland said.

Voter registration laws as they pertain to high school students require on-campus registration efforts be handled by a neutral, not a political, party such as the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, Kirtland said.

According to the Colorado Revised Statutes, registration of eligible high school students can take place only during normal school functions and can be administered only by designated “high school deputy registrars.”

The registrar, usually the high school’s principal or a registered voter designated by the school’s principal, must be trained and supervised by the county’s clerk and recorder office, the statute said.


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