As the last week before early voting for the General Election wraps up, Vigo County Schools have partnered with the Clerk’s office to teach kids a lesson outside of their core subjects by giving them hands on experience they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.
For the first time, voting machines were taken to all of the Vigo County High Schools to give students the opportunity to learn how the voting process works.
This is a lesson they hope will make a big impact on the future of voting and it’s a skill that every student, no matter their interests, will be able to use.
“The lowest number of votes we had were from the between 18-25. So what are keeping these young people from voting,” says Vigo County Clerk, Brad Newman.
After sorting through hundreds of options the Vigo County Clerks office determined the best way to get young people to the polls come election day was to give them confidence.
“It is a very intimidating experience to begin with. But the opportunity to just practice in a non-threatening environment so that they can learn what it is like to vote so that they can go in and vote without that fear of, what’s going to happen,” says Terre Haute South Vigo High School Assistant Principal, Brady Scott.
It didn’t take long for the VCSC and the Clerk’s office to devise a plan that would show these young people how important their voice is.
“I want to empower them to go out and vote. I want them to be educated about it. I want them to know how the equipment works. If they are familiar with the process, they are going to be more comfortable being part of the process,” says Newman.
The students got a hands on look into what it takes to cast your vote.
“There is not a step in the process that we are not teaching and training on,” says Newman.
“We’ve had nothing but positive responses from staff and students,” says Scott.
This is new for the county, “I am not aware of anybody else in the state doing, I am not aware of anybody else doing it period,” says Newman.
But it’s a piece of education that they feel will catch on once people realize the impact it can make.
“This is something that I feel whether you are Republican, Democrat, Independent, gives you a tool later on in life to use to be able to vote,” says Newman.
Officials are hoping to continue to see the impact of this training, not only this November, but also for many years to come.
“But there voice is just as loud as anybody else’s and it is just as important,” says Newman.
Primarily, the students who got to use the voting machines for the mock election were juniors and seniors. However, VCSC hope to use the machines in the future for their student council elections to better familiarize all students with the equipment and process before they are able to legally vote.
By next year, the county hopes to create mobile voting centers where they will go to the high school campuses and lock them down allowing students, faculty, and staff to vote during school hours.