LHS runs a voter registration drive

With an Illinois primary election approaching on March 20, the Social Studies department set up tables in the LHS lobby area on Thursday, Feb. 8, where students who will be eighteen by Nov. 6, the general election date, could register to vote.

The event lasted through all eight periods and was run by community volunteers. The goal was for at least 250 students to register to vote all day; by fourth period, they had 100 students sign up at the table itself, with many more doing so in class. According to the Social Studies department’s Twitter account, more than 200 students ended up registering by the end of the day.

“We teach social studies, and a big part of that is citizenship. As a department, it’s important for us to help educate people to be good citizens, and a key part of that is registering to vote, to participate in our democracy,” said Mr. Shawn McCusker, the Social Studies Department Supervisor who organized the event.

Mr. McCusker said he’s been voting since his freshman year of college, where it was a very social activity. As a history teacher, Mr. McCusker spent years studying the value and importance of democracy, and he wants to pass that onto students.

“I vote. My dad is voting. But I know his opinions and [this generation’s] opinions are very different, and they need to be balanced. If you’re 80 or if you’re 17 voting in a primary, your vote counts the same. I think that need to be known,” he said.

The 2018 Illinois primary elections for the Democratic and Republican Parties take place on March 20. The general elections will be on Nov. 6. Citizens will vote on a variety of positions for the Illinois state government, including the position of governor.

If you’re 80 or if you’re 17 voting in a primary, your vote counts the same. I think that need to be known.

— Mr. McCusker

Senior Josephine Barnabee is looking forward to taking advantage of her rights to participate in democracy.

“Even though [state elections] are small, I still think [students] should support [them] because it gives you the experience of voting,” she said. “It goes back to the idea that you’re putting in your own opinions; you’re putting in something of you, to get back out what you want.“

One of the community volunteers, Mrs. Jean Giardina, wants to catch students just as they become eligible to become new voters.

“I think it sets the habit for a lifetime,” Mrs. Giardina shared. “If you sign up now and participate right out of school, you’ll do it for the rest of your life.”

When asked about the lack of millennials at the recent presidential elections, Mr. McCusker explained the numbers, noting, “I think it’s a myth that young people don’t care. I think it’s sometimes true that young people don’t know how to get started.”

This was the first time a voter registration drive was held at LHS, and Mr. McCusker already has plans to repeat the event next year due to the successful turnout.