December 10, 2010

This fall, clients at the Department of Community Justice (DCJ) Londer Learning Center spent time learning more about the state and county voting process as part of their regular reading classes. The goals of the lessons were twofold: 1) prepare students to actively participate in the Nov. 2nd election and, 2) help students master their social studies thinking skills to pass the GED test.

The Oregon Bus project  outreach worker, Jillian Doneske, came to Londer in September to discuss probationers’ rights to vote. In preparation for her visit, students read and discussed the ballot measures in their classes. Many students filled out voter registration cards and took this opportunity to register to vote.

A few weeks later at a voting party in October, Sharon Little from the League of Women Voters helped facilitate a discussion of the pros and cons on selected state and local ballot measures. Some of the issues discussed included increased mandatory sentencing for certain crimes, the Fairview casino, medical marijuana dispensaries, permanent lottery funding for parks, beaches, and natural areas, and Tri-met improvements. Students asked questions and discussed the potential implications of each measure passing. As Sharon led the class through the measure interpretations, students practiced voting on a mock ballot.

These activities taught the students how their opinions could influence the development of policies that will shape our state and local area for the years ahead. Several students were inspired to exercise their right to vote for the first time in their lives! The lessons learned at the Londer Center not only enhance public safety but also increase civic and community engagement.