Viking votes promotes voter registration among students


Graphic illustration by Claire Chiu

JSA created the Viking Vote Program to encourage voter registration and pre-registration.

Claire Chiu, Writer

Nov. 3, 2020’s elections will determine who will serve as the president and other key roles, represent Americans and determine the future of the country. To encourage political engagement, Lynbrook’s chapter of Junior State of America (JSA), a non-partisan club focused on addressing and understanding political issues, has pushed out the Viking Vote Program to register or pre-register Lynbrook students ages 16 to 18 to vote.

JSA officers were motivated by the Oct. 19 voter registration deadline and created the Viking Vote Program to bring awareness to the issue. PR Officer and junior Marissa Dai designed the captivating Viking Vote Program graphics that were posted on the club’s and the school’s social media platforms. In particular, JSA collaborated with ASB and sophomore, junior and senior class officer teams to promote voter registration on a mass scale. To facilitate the registration process, officers created a link redirecting students to the official California registration form. As of Oct. 23, the form has garnered 80 clicks. Other than aiming to spread voter awareness, JSA regularly engages club members in political conversations and activities.

“We can not facilitate the actual process of going to polls to vote,” said JSA Co-President and senior Kanav Tirumala. “But we are keeping our members informed on candidates, and we do debate watch parties.“

While there are many avenues for political participation, voting is seen largely as one of the easiest and most important ways to do so. Voting is crucial because it is a way for the general public to communicate their viewpoints and elect their representatives. In a presidential election, for example, voters’ ballots determine which candidate receives their states’ electoral votes, with the candidate getting the majority winning the election. The president, and his political party, thus has immense power and control of the executive branch. If an incompetent leader is put in office, America may suffer both domestically and internationally.

“Voting is super important because we all have a social duty to contribute to our government and their policies which affect all of us,” Dai said. “Especially in our community, we’re more privileged and might feel like it doesn’t really affect us, but we should be using our voice to help the wellbeing of marginalized communities who will be negatively impacted. It’s especially crucial right now when people’s rights are being violated.”

For younger generations, especially Gen Z,  there has been a growing trend of activism on social, environmental and political issues. However, this strong interest has not resulted in high voter turnout. In fact, Americans ages 18 to 29 represent a minority in the voting population, which prevents young voters from being heard in the democratic process. In the 2018 midterm elections, only 20% of the 18 to 29 year old age group voted — the lowest of any group. As a result, JSA wanted to encourage Gen Z students to vote and make sure that their voices are heard.

Voting exists on federal, state and local levels. Local elections have greater influence over communities we live in, directly affecting people’s lives. By voting, or pre-registering to vote, Lynbrook students can voice their opinions in their communities.

JSA plans on continuing their campaign of voting awareness by partnering with government teachers to register all seniors at Lynbrook to vote. They are also reaching out to school administrators to send out a school-wide email promoting the Viking Vote Program for voter registration. Additionally, due to America’s polarized climate, JSA hopes to facilitate an open space for members to learn and discuss political issues such as racism, healthcare and the 2020 election.