Speech Trek

2022-2023 Speech Trek Contest
Topic: How can communities, organizations, and citizens of all ages help protect and expand voting rights?

Kyra Sharma Wins First Place in Local Speech Contest

Kyra Sharma, a sophomore at La Jolla High School in San Diego, took first place in the February 7th AAUW La Mesa-El Cajon Branch Speech Trek Speech Contest. Kyra was one of two finalists to compete. Hussein Al Husseini, a senior at Granite Hills High School in El Cajon placed second.

To see Kyra’s speech, visit https://youtu.be/F1gqo1ed4yo

Kyra’s speech, along with other branch winners, will be reviewed by a panel of judges to determine the top three finalists at the State level. Those videos will be showcased at the AAUW California Annual Event, April 22, 2023. Kyra will present her speech in person at the La Mesa-El Cajon Branch meeting on March 11th.

Both finalists at the local level received cash awards of $500 and $250, respectively.

“We know that expanding the ability of all eligible citizens to vote is the central pillar…ensuring all eligible voters can cast a vote; that all lawful votes are counted; and that every voter has access to accurate information.” – Attorney General Merrick Garland

Voting Rights Timeline

  • 1776 – Birth of the United States of America
  • 1870 – 15th Amendment granted African-American men the right to vote.
  • 1920 – 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote.
  • 1964 – 24th Amendment prohibited poll taxes.
  • 1965 – Voting Rights Act prohibited racial discrimination.
  • 1971 – 26th Amendment lowered the legal age to vote from 21 to 18.
  • 2021 – More than 440 bills were introduced in 49 states with provisions that restrict voting access.*
  • 2022 – From January 1st to May 4th, six state legislatures (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, & Oklahoma) passed nine “election interference” laws (defined as opening door to partisan interference in elections and/or threatening the people and processes that make elections work).*
  •  2023 – ?

Restrictive legislation can make it more difficult to cast a ballot; expansive legislation can make it easier to cast a ballot.

“There are many things that are open to debate in America,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.  “But the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them.  The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, the right from which all other rights ultimately flow.”

What say you?  How can communities, organizations and citizens of all ages help protect and expand voting rights?

 *According to Brennan Center for Justice and its Voting Laws Roundup

For information, contact:

Sandy Martinez (sagaleamartinez@gmail.com) or

Sue Sutton (ssutton1950@gmail.com)


Please note that donations to Speech Trek are tax deductible.  Make checks payable to AAUW CA SPF with the words  “Speech Trek” in the memo line.