Educator uses National Voter Registration Day to help lift her neighbors’ voices

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by Brian Washington

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More than 80,000 people call Somerville, Massachusetts home. Nestled just outside of Boston, right next to Cambridge, this growing, diverse community is one of the most populous little cities in the nation.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, people from throughout the region plan to flock to the city’s east side for the annual East Somerville Main Street Foodie Crawl.

And thanks to educator and East Somerville resident Tracey Pratt, in honor of National Voter Registration Day, which is also tomorrow, in addition to sampling some of the region’s most eclectic restaurants, those attending the Foodie Crawl will have an opportunity to register to vote.

MA educator and East Somerville resident Tracey Pratt

Pratt, who works in the Cambridge School District, is setting up a voter registration table at the event and has also recruited a few volunteers to roam the streets with forms and clipboards seeking out those who are not registered or need to update their registration status.

“It’s the perfect opportunity and location to have this because people will be out and about,” said Pratt. “I contacted East Somerville Main Street just to make sure I could do it, in connection with them, and they were like, ‘It’s a perfect idea, so just go for it.'”

When Education Votes caught up with Pratt, she was on her way to City Hall to pick up some census forms. According to her, if you haven’t filled out the latest census form for the city, you’re in danger of having your voter registration status being declared as “inactive.”

“That’s something that happens to a lot of people all the time,” said Pratt. “You get this notice in the mail…and you think you’ll get to it (getting your status changed) and you never do.”

If you think registering to vote sounds boring, think again. Pratt aims to make it entertaining by adding a few trivia questions based on Somerville politics and history.

“It’s going to be a fun thing–nothing meant to add any pressure,” says Pratt. “It’ll just test how much you know about your Somerville community.”

I really want to make people aware of what’s going on in local politics. A lot of the time, people only vote in national elections. But we have so much going on in our community right now. I want to use the trivia piece to educate.

We asked Pratt what’s motivating her to do this. Why not just go to the Foodie Crawl and enjoy what she calls the “phenomenal” and “diverse” array of restaurants in her neighborhood? She told us that she believes voting is one of the main ways an individual can use his or her voice in the community. She wants to make sure everyone has that opportunity.

“And there are so many different people who aren’t registered because they don’t know how to, it’s not accessible to them, or it may not be at the top of their to-do list,” said Pratt. “Sometimes you just have to go where the people are and get them registered to vote.”

Educators: Spread the word! Make sure eligible high school seniors are registered to vote. Share graphic via Facebook. Share graphic via Twitter.

 

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