Editorial, Issue 9 – Volume CVII

For the majority of the senior class, March 20 was the first time students could vote. Most notable in this primary election was the gubernatorial democratic race between J.B. Pritzker, Daniel Biss, and Chris Kennedy.

It comes as no surprise, especially following the walkout in honor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, that the school and students alike stressed the importance of students’ voting on March 20. On March 24, at the March for Our Lives in Chicago, students joined in on the “Vote them out!” chant across Union Park.

But how many eligible Parker students actually went and filled out a primary ballot? In the senior grade alone, around 79 students could register and vote. Beyond the seniors, a select number of juniors, who have early fall birthdays and turn 18 by November, could have also cast their ballots.

Parker most certainly has stressed the importance of voting. From leading a voter registration session in senior grade room to inviting students to participate as Election Judges to reminding students about the big day in class, students certainly could not have avoided the message.

No matter how often this message is pounded into the heads of voters, students and beyond, what actually motivates people to go out and participate in democracy? It feels to many as though the one vote you would cast would have no effect. We urge you to think otherwise.

Regardless of your political beliefs, it’s hard to argue that the political environment in the United States today is not charged. Democrats want to take back the House and Senate, Republicans want to stay in power, and–arguably–there is a heightened urgency among other citizens nationwide. People are out on the streets marching, protesting, and demanding change.

Unfortunately, even though a president may see hundreds and thousands of people marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, protests don’t directly lead to policy change. There has to be a middle step–and more often than not, voting is that missing stepping stone.

According to Natasha Korecki, a reporter at “Politico,” Democratic turnout in the most recent Illinois primary election was up 300 percent from 2014 and up 30 percent compared to turnout in 2010.

Republican turnout dropped 30 percent from 2014.

So clearly voters, specifically the Democrats, were motivated–and hopefully those numbers will only continue to rise into the general election on November 6.

Back to us students–less than a fourth of the high school is eligible to vote in November, but for one election that looms closer to home, everyone has the franchise: student government.

Yes, it’s up for debate on how much Student Government actually impacts the student body. Proposals have to be approved by the administration, people don’t pay attention, and the enthusiasm for plenary session each Friday certainly dwindles as the year goes by.

As election season looms close ahead, we urge students across the high school to vote. The parallels between the “real world” and our own little school bubble are certainly evident. Do candidates spend too much money on campaigns? Do students bribe each other with food and pins during election season? Why are citizens unmotivated to vote? Why don’t students take two minutes out of their lunch period to vote?

Here at “The Weekly,” we firmly believe that if you don’t vote, then you have no right to complain.

Whether in school or out in the city and beyond, keep on marching and protesting–but don’t forget that stepping stone.

To all the seniors: pick your voting state strategically and don’t forget about absentee voting.

To the rest of the high school: developing good habits can never start to early–urge your peers to vote here at Parker and exercise your own rights as students this spring.