Door to door

Students get active in midterm elections

Sam Tedrowe '21 and Jack O'Leary '20

As the congressional and gubernatorial midterm voting dates approach on Nov. 6, students, including many who are not yet eligible to vote, are putting in both partisan and nonpartisan volunteering effort to prepare for the elections.

“There aren’t any members in [Young Democrats Club] who can vote yet, but there are still a lot of opportunities to get involved,” said Young Democrats Club Co-President Henry Brennan ‘20. “It’s one thing to learn about the Democratic Party, but it’s another to act on what you learn and what you believe in.”

The club hopes to get involved by campaigning for their party and are currently planning to make calls for a remote phone bank.

“That can hopefully get people to want to vote more, of course when they’re of age,” Brennan said. “They’re becoming more aware of what’s happening around them, so they can feel like their voice makes a difference, because it does.”

Brennan hopes to collaborate with other politically affiliated student groups in the future. Young Republicans Club is led by Matthew Richards ‘19 and Kelli Gujral ‘19.

“It’s really important to have mutual understanding,” said Brennan. “You may not agree ideologically, but it’s really important in this political climate right now to have an open communication.”

Not all of the activism leading up to the midterms at Jones is partisan. Students can also get involved with the educational activist group Mikva Challenge Foundation by working as election judges.

“It is an easy, nonpartisan way to see how the actual day of the election works,” said AP Government and AP U.S. History teacher Jonathan Smith, who the Mikva Challenge Foundation reached out to. “I think student involvement, whether you can or can’t vote, is great. Political participation is not limited to voting. There are multiple avenues for people to participate in American government and politics, at the local, state, and federal level.”

For some students, being an election judge is their first time participating in political activism.

“Some people may think midterms are unimportant, but it’s actually game changing for us this year,” said Emily Biggs ‘20. “The governor is up for election, which can impact all of our lives. As for students like me who can’t vote yet, I’d say to ask if your family members or friends are voting, and if not, try to convince them to vote. There’s still a lot that you can do.”

Students are getting involved at the grassroots level as well. Sadie de Forest ‘21 worked with March for Our Lives to hand out flyers on street corners encouraging voter registration.

“It’s the role of every single activist to encourage people to vote regardless of who they’ll vote for,” said de Forest. “The most important thing for an activist is to encourage democracy to ensure everyone has a say.”

Other students, however, are volunteering for specific parties with hopes that their candidate of choice gets elected. In addition to being an election judge, Traolach O’Sullivan ‘20 volunteered for gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, working at a phone bank and knocking on doors.

“It’s really important to get boots on the ground and get involved,” said O’Sullivan. “That’s the only way to make change.”