On the first day of school, each Catholic elementary school student will go home with a blank registration form to encourage all those who are eligible, but are not registered to vote, to do so in time to vote in the fall elections.
"We think that this is a crucial election year," said Sister Carol Cimino, SSJ, diocesan superintendent of schools. "We take it very seriously not just to be good citizens but faithful citizens, and so we need to teach our children to weigh the issues in light of what our faith teaches us is important."
About 9,000 students who attend the 40 Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Buffalo usually take home various forms to parents at the end of their first day back to school. This year the packet will include a blank voter registration form and a letter from Bishop Richard J. Malone, who stated, "Our choice of leaders will have long-term implications. In addition, referenda on many issues that affect our lives will be determined, and those that affect the most vulnerable among us should be of grave concern to the Catholic community."
Bishop Malone also encouraged voters to refer to the U.S. bishops' 2015 publication entitled, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," which can be found at www.faithfulcitizenship.org.
"A lot of things are hanging in the balance," said Sister Carol, who points out that the issues range from health services, to taxes, to support for families with children attending Catholic schools. "Whether it's the national elections or local elections, there will be differences made this year. As Harry Truman said, 'All politics are local'. Whatever happens in those local elections is going to affect us the most."
Any high school senior who turns 18 before Dec. 31 is eligible to register for voting, but only those who are 18 by Election Day can vote in this election. Applications must be postmarked no later than Oct. 14 and received by a board of elections no later than Oct. 19 to be eligible to vote in the general election.
"We can be a powerful force for good, an effective voice for the vulnerable, and a visible catalyst for raising up our brothers and sisters," stated Bishop Malone in his letter to parents, "All we need to do is exercise our right to vote in a conscientious manner."