Students organize voter registration event

Shorewood students teamed up with the League of Women Voters (LWV) to organize a voter registration event on the SHS campus. The aim was to help seniors register to vote, show them how and where to vote and how to find polling places wherever they live.

Jillian Beaster, sophomore, was the main student organizer of the event. The first contact she had with a member of LWV was in the art and English class Image and Word. 

“When I was in Image and Word last semester, they had a woman who was a representative of the LWV come in and talk to our class about what they do,” Beaster said. “I got the woman’s card and we were emailing but it didn’t really amount to much then.”

Later, while attending an American Civil Liberties Union forum in downtown Milwaukee, Beaster met another LWV representative: the outreach coordinator of the high-school voter service team, Judy Winn.

Winn had already been in contact with SHS staff member Renee Glembin about potentially organizing a voter registration event. This type of event is common for her to organize. 

“We go to high schools in the whole area and train students how to run voter registration events, and then we come and help them when they run it,” Winn said.

[It is] really a sign of growing up, when you register.

— Judy Winn, LWV outreach coordinator

The event was held in the north room of the SHS Library Media Center, where computers were set up for students (18-year-olds, as well as 17-year-olds who are turning 18 before April 5) to go through the registration process with the assistance of a group of students, as well as a group from the LWV. The event was also meant to be a fun experience, involving balloons and celebratory cowbells for newly registered student voters. 

“We think this is really festive and really exciting,” Winn said. “[It is] really a sign of growing up, when you register.”

This event stemmed from concern about voter turnout for newly eligible voters. 

“We want to try to get word out to try to help the 18-year-olds make the registering process as easy as possible,” Beaster said. “Many people don’t know how to because voter education really isn’t talked about much.”

“I think it’s especially important for [youth] to vote because we’re the newer generation and I feel like we have more of the values that are transitioning out of the old custom values into the new ones,” said Jacey Gray-Hall, a senior who registered to vote at the event. “That’s why I think it’s important to have youth voting — so we can have someone that represents what we believe in.”

We want to try to get word out to try to help the 18-year-olds make the registering process as easy as possible.

— Jillian Beaster, sophomore

Winn hopes that this event helped inspire students to continue voting even when they are older.

“I just think that too often, people have the idea that their vote doesn’t count,” Winn said. “I just think it’s important that everybody realizes that you have a right, a responsibility, and a privilege of voting, and I want to extend that as much as I can.”

Winn appreciates the enthusiasm and effort from students like Beaster in organizing this event.

“[LWV loves] having student members. We have some already, and we really want to increase that,” Winn said. “We don’t take political stands, we take issue stands, and it would be wonderful to have youth helping us and working on those stands.”