Eagle County Schools allows local Democrats to give biannual, non-partisan presentations to students
October 20, 2018
EDWARDS — Vail Valley high schools opened their classrooms to local Democrats for non-partisan voting rights presentations, and to register students to vote, without inviting any other political parties or organizations to participate in the presentations.
Eagle County Schools confirmed that it did not invite Republicans or anyone else, but insisted it did not intentionally exclude anyone.
"Eagle County Schools welcomes a variety of groups into our schools to present non-partisan, factual information related to our curriculum. In this case, Eagle County Democrats reached out to make a non-partisan presentation on voters' rights. We were not contacted by other parties offering to make similar presentations, but all would have been welcome," said Dan Dougherty, the school district's chief communications officer.
Volunteers, not party reps
Local Democrats have made the presentations to local public and private highs schools every two years for the past three election cycles, said Nancy Shane, who chairs Eagle County Democrats.
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"It's non-partisan. We don't even introduce ourselves as Eagle County Democrats. We introduce ourselves as volunteers," Shane said.
At the end of their presentations, trained voter registration circulators distribute forms to students in the classrooms, offering students the opportunity to register. More than 200 students did, Shane said.
Circulators did not suggest a party affiliation, in keeping with the Colorado Secretary of State's rules, Shane said.
"It was left entirely up to the students," Shane said.
At least half chose to register as unaffiliated voters, she said.
"We do these presentations to let kids know that the right to vote did not just happen. People of color, ethnicities, women had to fight for it," Shane said. "It's their right and responsibility to exercise that right."
With the election season reaching its peak, many of the classes were talking about the campaigns.
Matter of respect
Eagle County GOP chair Kaye Ferry called it a matter of respect and said no one from the schools reached out to local Republicans.
"In a small community, we have different standards than they do in larger urban areas. We strive to be respectful of each other. If the Democrats or the school district wanted to be inclusive, they all have my phone number," Ferry said.
Glen Gallegos, a Republican running for University of Colorado regent, praised the presentation he dropped in to see. Gallegos called America's elections and the peaceful transition of power they create a miracle.
Click ‘play’ to hear the audio presentation.
'White male property owners'
Shane's half-hour presentation walked students through the history of voting rights in the United States, beginning with "white male property owners," and explained how voting rights have changed as America has.
Thomas Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independence, was "white and very wealthy," Shane told the class.
"Hence the people invited to be part of the delegation and sign the Declaration of Independence were just like Thomas Jefferson. They modeled voting on where they came from. White, male property owners controlled the political process," Shane told the class.
The presentation weaved through changes in American voting rights and citizenship laws, ending with Robert Mueller's current collusion investigation.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and email@example.com.