Go voteThey may not be old enough to vote yet, bt three Superior High School students are urging those who can to exercise their right to vote.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
They may not be old enough to vote yet, but three Superior High School students are urging those who can to exercise their right to vote.
Their “Red, White & You” campaign goes on the road today. Over the next two weeks, they give presentations to elementary school students, stand with Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen as he proclaims Voter Awareness Week, share information on the internet and hold a mock election.
Their public relations project for DECA, an association of marketing students, is non-partisan.
“You don’t have to pick a side,” said Savannah Oak. “Just vote.”
A democracy is ruled by the people, she said, but it only works if the people get out and participate in it. Voting affects our nation, our community and our future.
“In the past we fought for our right to vote so it only makes sense that we use it,” Oak said.
Hand in hand with that right is the importance of being well-informed, said her sister Courtney.
“You’ve got to know what you’re voting for,” she said. “You’ve got to know what you want when you go out and cast your vote otherwise you’re maybe voting for something that you’re not aware that could happen.”
And, the sisters said, it’s just as important to cast a vote in local and state elections.
“That’s where a lot of decisions which affect you are made,” said Superior City Clerk Terri Kalan.
Presidential elections tend to draw the largest number of voters, however. Kalan said 89 percent of the city’s registered voters made it to the polls for the 2008 presidential election. To be prepared, the City Clerk’s office ordered enough ballots for a 100 percent turnout on Nov. 6.
“It’s better to have too much than not enough,” Kalan said.
People who want to cast their ballot ahead of time can do so starting Monday at the office. Walk-in absentee voting will continue until 5 p.m. Nov. 2. Absentee voting in person will also be accepted in Douglas County municipalities during that same time frame. Residents should contact their clerk directly to find out office hours, according to the County Clerk’s Office.
Kalan encouraged people to vote ahead of time if possible and make sure they have either registered or have proper proof of residence before going to the polls.
The new My Vote Wisconsin website, myvote.wi.gov, contains a host of information on registration and absentee voting.
“The more anyone can do to be prepared to vote on Election Day, the quicker it will be for them,” she said.
Preparation includes taking a look at the candidates and their positions, according to the Oak sisters, who are heading the DECA project with classmate Brianna Homich. The seniors hope to make a difference in voter turnout by encouraging people to be informed voters and stressing the importance of voting.
They urged people to look beyond the negative campaign ads flooding the airwaves. Debates between both the presidential and vice presidential candidates have been informative, they said, as well as entertaining.
“I liked to see them bicker back at each other,” Savannah said. “I think it’s interesting just to see their views on all the different problems in our world.” Full clips of the debates can be found online through various news sites as well as YouTube.
One of the DECA trio’s biggest goals is to bring the election to the elementary schools. They will give a Power Point presentation to fifth graders throughout the district on the history of voting and the importance of casting a vote.
On Nov. 6, while their parents go to the polls, the fifth graders will cast their own ballots during a mock election. The ballot will hold the same seven choices for president as the real one.
“I think it makes them realize how important it is to vote,” Kalan said.
A similar mock vote made an impact on the Oak sisters when they were in elementary school.
“I still remember going in the little booth, filling out my little ballot. It was just a fun experience,” Savannah said.
“It made you feel like kind of important,” Courtney said. “Even if it was just a fake vote it made you feel like you had a say in something.”
They hope that feeling will stay with students and encourage them to vote when they are old enough. It could even prompt discussions at home, the Oak sisters said.
More information on the DECA project is available on the “Red White and You” Facebook page. For voting information in the county, contact your municipal clerk or check the My Vote Wisconsin website. The City Clerk’s office also has a voting hotline available to answer residents’ questions at 715-395-7383.