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Proviso Students Get Out the Vote, Register Early

February 21, 2014 08:35 AM
Students at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy and Proviso West High School got a jump on the 2014 election season by registering to vote during voter registration drives at their schools recently.

At the two drives, more than 120 students registered to vote in the coming elections. Among them were 17-year-old students who will be eligible to vote for the first time in the primary election on March 18 if they turn 18 years old in time for the general election on November 4. This is due to a new law that went into effect on January 1.

"It’s a good thing," said Joel Alvarado, a 17-year-old junior at PMSA. "I wanted to register so I can vote. I want to find out the candidates’ stances on issues."

voter-reg-drive2-0214-380At PMSA, 30 students were made into deputy voter registrars, allowing them to help their fellow students register to vote. Among them was Ariana Guzman, a senior. She said that the new law allowing 17-year-olds to vote was helping turnout for the voter registration.

"We have 17-year-olds who are ready to vote," she said. "It opens your eyes to see who has an interest in the country."

During lunch periods on February 4, more than 100 PMSA students registered to vote. Mr. Bahati Mwitula of the Cook County Clerk’s Office said that it was part of an outreach campaign to register young voters in suburban Cook County high schools.

"We’re trying to reach out to high school juniors and seniors and get as many registered as possible," Mr. Mwitula said.

Ms. Patricia Howard, chair of the humanities department at PMSA, said that she estimated that as many of 70 percent of the eligible 17-year-olds at PMSA are registered to vote this year, partially as a result of the attention being paid to being informed voters.

"This will start them on the path to be questioning citizens and voting," Ms. Howard said. "They’re learning in their social studies classes to delve into the issues. The power of the vote is huge."

At Proviso West on February 7 and 18, members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Glen Ellyn Alumnae Chapter conducted their own voter registration drive, setting up a table outside the cafeteria during students’ lunch periods. Ms. Karen Hammoud, chair of the social studies and world languages department at Proviso West, said that the voter registration drive was part of a campaign with the Cook County Clerk’s Office to educate students about the democratic process.

"Isn’t what we really want are more voters?" Ms. Hammoud said. "If we get them young and they learn about the process, then they can get involved."

For Daisy Zavala, 17 and a Proviso West senior, registering to vote was a matter of being able to help choose the state’s and nation’s leaders.

"I have to state my opinion out there," she said.


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