Why Vote?

A multi-media contest for high school students held in 2007.

Prizes were awarded at a ceremony held January 2008. The winners were:

Ziyad Abdelfattah, Albany High – essay

Grant Borgwardt, MacGregor High – video (no longer available)

Kevin Quirolo, Albany High – essay

Reza Rezvani, Albany High – essay

Peter Yao, Albany High – essay


$500 gift card for the Grand Prize winner to the local electronics store of your choice (choose from The Apple Store, Circuit City, Radio Shack, CompUSA, etc.)

$250 card to each school winner (one in each of our five public high schools)

$100 card to each school runner-up (one in each of our five public high schools)

Contest Instructions

  • Create a persuasive message giving young adults (18-29) a reason to register and vote.
  • The submission deadline is November 15, 2007
  • Submissions must be made as print, image, audio or video files attached to an e-mail message sent to contest07@lwvbae.org. The body of the e-mail message must contain at least your name (first and last), school, grade, home address, and a phone number and e-mail address at which you can be reached with questions, or can be notified should you be named a winner.
  • You may create and submit a file that contains a flyer, poster, print ad, essay or editorial (500 words maximum), a poem, an editorial cartoon; an audio or video ad, a song, rap or commentary (audio and video submissions must run no longer than 60 seconds); or an html file (web page) that displays without error in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser.
  • You may submit only one entry.
  • Submissions will be judged on their relevance to the contest topic (giving young people a compelling reason to register and vote), and message clarity, originality, polish (presentation quality) and overall impact.
  • By making a submission, you grant the League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany and Emeryville a non-exclusive right to use that submission, without charge or royalty, in future registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns.
  • E-mail addresses and other personal information (phone numbers, street addresses, etc.) will be kept by the League in the strictest confidence. We will use them only in connection with this contest, and will not share them with any other groups or individuals. Neither will we use them to solicit you in any way in the future.


You are eligible to submit an entry to the League’s Why Vote? contest if you are currently enrolled in the 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade in one of the five public high schools in Albany, Berkeley or Emeryville. The deadline for submissions is November 15, 2007. All submissions must be made via e-mail attachment.

Getting Started

If you already know what you want to do, and how you want to do it, feel free to skip this section and start right in. But if you’re looking for some inspiration as well as suggestions about how to create your message, read on.

List reasons that might convince a young person to decide to register and vote

  • Research what others say, or have written
  • talk to parents, teachers, and school and public librarians
  • find out what other young people have said and written
  • Why it is important for young people to vote
  • The thoughts of Kaedrea Wilson from Whitehaven High School
  • The answer to this question is simple
  • Connecting young people with democracy
  • Youth Noise lists its top 10 reasons
  • Explore links from the Google search, reasons to vote
  • Infer reasons from the high school and college essays written as entries in this 1999 Why Don’t We Vote contest
  • Track down more reasons from others, then add ideas of your own
  • Pick the reason you think is most important, one with which you want to work

Pick a medium in which to express the idea on which you’ve settled

  • Look at what others have done, not to make copies, but to find inspiration
  • Rock the Vote has produced numerous audio and video ads
  • DeclareYourself.com takes a different video tack and also provides great images that could be used on posters and flyers
  • review the files our league has posted as sample posters/flyers/print ads
  • Pick a medium in which you feel comfortable, and with which you believe you can make your clearest and strongest argument

Craft your message

  • Create a rough draft of the file you plan to submit
  • Smooth, polish and refine your draft
  • Take a break (several hours or several days), then return to your draft when you can work on it in a fresh light
  • Repeat the previous two steps until you are satisfied that you’ve done your best possible work
  • Submit your file no later than November 15, 2007