Civic Northsiders Register for the Midterms, Mikva-Style
By Kenny Larson
Over the past three years, the United States has been engaged in one of its largest political struggles in the past several decades. Clashes between Democrats and Republicans have galvanized political activism across the country, and the Northside community has not been immune. In fact, earlier this year, Northsiders took to the streets several times during the spring to protest lax federal gun control regulations in the wake of several school shootings. Capitalizing on this civic energy, Northside’s Mikva Challenge chapter offered students a convenient opportunity to register to vote in this year’s midterm elections.
Throughout the week of Oct. 1, students representing Mikva Challenge volunteered during their lunch periods to assist students while registering to vote. Resty Fufunan, Adv. 007, was one of these volunteers and said that it is very easy for students to register to vote. “All you need is a State ID” said Fufunan. However, students must be at least 18 years old by Nov. 6, the date of the midterm election, to be eligible to vote and register. Although Fufunan was unaware of how many Northsiders had registered, he said that many students had visited Mikva’s booth over the course of the week.
Once registered to vote, students need to research the candidates running for re-election or seeking office during the midterms. However, because there are dozens of races in a given election, this process can seem daunting to many voters. Fortunately, Fufunan said that Mikva can assist students with their research and provide them with valuable information. “Mikva is ready to help students research candidates,” said Fufunan. “They can email us for more information about candidates.” Fufunan also encouraged students to watch one of the several debates and town halls that have occurred between Governor Rauner and his opponent, J.B. Pritzker.
Thanks to Mikva’s efforts, many Northsiders are now able to participate in one of their most important civic duties. Andrea Prest, Adv. 010, another member of Northside’s Mikva chapter, spoke to the importance of voting, even as a student in high school. “Voting gives students a voice in government,” said Prest. “They get a say in what happens.” This sentiment was echoed by Mario Cook, Adv. 904, who stated that “Voting is important because it is the only way we can hold our politicians who fail to hear our voices accountable and reward those who do.”
Although some students may not be eligible to vote, Mikva offers several other opportunities for students to be involved in the government’s democratic processes. Dozens of Northsiders have worked as election judges on election day, an activity sponsored by the citywide Mikva organization. Prior to election day, students are required to receive four hours of training preparing them to manage a polling place and assist voters throughout election day. Although the deadline to sign up for the midterm election has already passed, students can still work during the upcoming mayoral election in March of 2019.
Even if some students do not work as election judges, Fufunan said that writing to representatives in government can be an effective method of creating change nationally and locally. Northside’s students have been historically unafraid to speak their minds on issues important to them, illustrated by last year’s school walkouts. As such, civic engagement has never been more accessible to the Northside community.
Although Illinois’ in-person voter registration deadline has already passed, students and adults can still register to vote at their polling place on election day, although this process may be more time-consuming for the voter. For more information about Mikva Challenge, registering to vote, and determining who to support on election day, visit http://www.mikvachallenge.org.