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Mom, daughter help students register

When her daughter mentioned that some North Medford High School students eligible to participate in the upcoming election didn't know how to register to vote, Denise Cyr decided to cater voter registration to them.

"We were told by our social studies teachers that if you're going to be 18 by the election, to register to vote," said Cyr's daughter, Amanda, a senior at North Medford. "Some students didn't know if they had to register online or drive to City Hall."

Denise Cyr, who has been campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, recruited some of her fellow campaign volunteers to set up a table in the library at North Medford.

"Seniors have so much going on," Cyr said. "We thought if we could bring it to them, more would register."

Together, they helped guide 150 students at North Medford through the registration process during a three-day period in early February.

"I was surprised about how many registered," Amanda Cyr said. "It was wonderful that so many were interested."

Since then, the volunteers have taken the voter registration drive to Grants Pass High School, Rogue River High School and Rogue Community College, collecting another 100 registration forms in all.

On March 10 and 11, they'll hold a voter registration drive at South Medford High School.

"I tell them, 'However you vote, vote,' " Cyr said.

"From 18 to 25, these are the best years of life," she added. "It's when people go to college, go out in the world, get a job. We have such strong presidential candidates this year, kids need to get involved. This person is going to guide them through the next four years, the best of their life."

The volunteers handed out registration forms and index cards with nonpartisan election sites. The forms have to be postmarked by April 29. Those who are age 17 may register as long as they turn 18 before the Nov. 4 election.

Dylan Gutridge, 17, a North Medford student, said he won't turn 18 in time for the presidential election, but he knows who he would vote for if he could.

"Mike Gravel," Dylan said, referring to the obscure Democratic candidate. "I saw him on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.' I decided to look into him because he seemed like a crazy guy. I found out I agree with him and what he supports doing."

Cyr and other volunteers said they took care not to campaign for Obama during the voter registration drives at the schools.

"We made it clear they couldn't push a certain agenda," said Ralph Burrelle, a North Medford guidance counselor.

"We have always had voter registration cards in the library, but no one has coordinated an encouraging atmosphere for kids to register. We appreciated that they took the initiative to do that."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.

North Medford High School student Amanda Cyr, with the help of her mother Denise, is encouraging eligible students to register to vote in the presidential elections. - Bob Pennell