“[Grades] nine to 12 are voting ... and it started with the desire to really get students understanding how to vote, the voting process and wanting to later vote,” Summer Erickson, a social studies teacher and student council sponsor, said. “[Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk] and I had talked about trying to improve our voting in Bartow County and we thought this could kind of be a way to do it because if they’re comfortable on the voting machines then maybe they’ll be more likely to vote when they’re 18.”
Erickson said the day’s events had gone well as of mid-morning, with each English class reporting to the auxiliary gym to give students the opportunity to vote.
“They can refuse to vote, but most want to experience it and see what it’s all about,” Erickson said.
This is the second year for the school to incorporate the use of voting machines for student elections. To help ensure the process continued to operate smoothly, some students were selected to serve as poll workers throughout the day.
“It’s a good way to learn how to vote and how to register to vote and the steps it takes to do that,” Tyler Washington, a senior and poll worker, said.
Charlie Silvers, a junior and assistant manager at the mock polling place, said he enjoyed participating in the process.
“I’m just helping out and making sure everybody is doing what they need to do,” Silvers said. “We’ve got people who are making the voting cards, helping people fill out their voter registration forms and people helping with the actual voting, then people taking the voting cards at the end.”
Kirk said the program, which he hopes to eventually expand to all local schools, expands upon voter education in the classroom.
“The best part of this in my mind is you’re getting to educate the students and tell them all the stuff that is not actually in the high school curriculum — the vessels to register to vote, what your options are, what political districts are, who to contact if you have a question and what deadlines are for things,” Kirk said. “All that information that people pick up on as you go, but if you don’t do it just right and you pick up [the information] as you hear the phrase, ‘Sorry, you’re not getting to vote this time.’”
Junior Brittany Nally said she enjoyed the opportunity to vote using actual voting machines.
“It’s pretty cool. I don’t know of many schools that get to do this,” Nally said.