Wave of LT students active in democracy

LT students sign up to be local electoral judges

Kaitlyn Joyner, Pulse Editor

When Jessica Quintero ‘21 found out she could still get involved in the election without being able to vote, she immediately jumped on the opportunity. Through a process recommended by her friend, Quintero signed up to be a poll worker/electoral judge for the 2020 election. 

An electoral judge attends to the polls and assists in supervising them. In addition to that, this year electoral judges have made safety a priority as poll workers have been instructed on maintaining safe distances between voters, Quintero said. 

Although this is Quintero’s first year as an electoral judge, this is not a new concept to LT, Global Studies Division Chair Paul Houston said. For at least the last 18 years, Houston has supervised a mock election every four years, as well as assisting LT students who are of age to register to vote annually. With the help of the League of Women voters centered in LaGrange, Houston has also aided in promoting students to sign up as electoral judges. 

“I think the more idealistic, passionate, creative teenagers we have involved, the better off we all are,” Houston said. 

LT plays two major roles in helping students under the age of 18 sign up as electoral judges. First they advertise and promote the idea to help inform students. This is done through sending out email blasts to students or contacting social studies teachers to encourage their students to sign up, Houston said. 

I would encourage any student who wants to learn more about the process of voting, and how to be an engaged member of our democracy,” civics teacher Mica Vahl said. 

Additionally the school finalizes the form for each student that decides to sign up to become an electoral judge. Once a student has completed the form, they send it to the school for it to be finalized by Principal Brian Waterman or Houston, who then sends it to the Cook County Clerk’s office, Houston said. 

In order to work on election day, electoral judges must complete an online course training, which will prepare them to work the polls. Most electoral judges will work shifts ranging from eight to twelve hours, Quintero said. 

Judges learn a plethora of tasks they might do on election day including spacing out voters to ensure safety and how to properly handle someone who expresses their political beliefs at the polls. 

As of Oct. 27, 61 students from LT have signed up to become poll workers this election day, Vahl said. 

Reasons for an outstanding number of students signing up to become poll workers could be due to the intense emotions and interest this election has stirred up or the pandemic since most activities teenagers would participate in are postponed; they have more free time, Houston said. 

Because most poll workers are elderly, leaving their homes could pose a serious risk to their health due to the ongoing pandemic, therefore making them less likely to work the polls due to the anxiety associated with the pandemic, Quintero said.  

“I just wanted to help out my community and also make sure that everybody’s vote counts this year because I feel like it truly is one of the most monumental voting years, at least in my lifetime,” Quintero said. 

In addition to encouraging students to vote, LT will also be hosting a mock election for all students on Nov. 3. It is accessible for students through their LT email with directions on how to cast their vote, Vahl said.