Loudon County Election Commission is working with local high schools in hopes of earning the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Anne Dallas Dudley Award.

The award recognizes high schools that reach at least 85% voter registration of eligible seniors by the next election.

“This has never been done so we are in the process for this year but hope all schools will attain this recognition,” Susan Harrison, county elections administrator, said in an email correspondence. “... Considering some schools are larger than others, this could really take a lot of work on some school’s part to reach 85%.”

Participating schools must submit an application by March 31.

Harrison would like to have students registered in time for the local May election.

“We are so excited about Secretary of State (Tre) Hargett’s newly launched Anne Dallas Dudley Award,” Harrison said in a press release. “We hope this new program and Anne Dallas Dudley’s incredible story will inspire Loudon County students to register to vote.”

Dudley, a renowned Tennessee suffragist, helped lead a successful effort to get the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified nationwide and in her home state. On Aug. 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th and final state needed to pass the amendment giving women the right to vote.

“We launched this new award because we believe our state and our nation are stronger when every eligible Tennessean is registered to vote and casts a ballot on Election Day,” Hargett said in a press release. “We are working with county election commissions across our great state to make sure students know that it has never been easier to register to vote in Tennessee and then to participate in our elections.”

High schools that reach 100% registration will earn the Anne Dallas Dudley Gold Level Award, while schools with at least 85% can earn the silver level.

For the gold level schools, Hargett’s office will present a commemorative plaque and recognize students with certificates.

“Ms. Harrison said exactly what we believe, that we’re much stronger when everybody votes,” Mike Casteel, Greenback School principal, said. “It’s been a long tradition for her to come out to Greenback high school and to visit at senior English classes and she assists our students to get enrolled. As a matter of fact, if they’re not 18 yet, she keeps them on file and when they turn 18 she mails those in for them. Because of her work and diligence, we’re able to get almost all of our kids that are registered to vote.”

For more information about the award, contact the election commission at 865-458-2560.