‘We Will Vote’ Club Registers 68 Latin Students To Vote


Debbie Linder

Michael Gray ’25 smiling and making a thumbs-up gesture while holding a voter registration form. Photographed in front of one of the drive’s voter registration tables. A poster reading ‘VOTE is voice’ and patriotic ‘red, white, & blue’ star-shaped balloons are pictured in the background.

Latin students were given the opportunity to register to vote through the We Will Vote Club’s Voter Registration Drive on February 9 in the Learning Commons. Any student who will be 18 by November 5 this year is eligible to register to vote in the 2024 Presidential Election. Through the drive, the club helped 68 Latin students register to vote.

Digital Poster spreading awareness about Latin’s We Will Vote Club’s February 9 Registration Drive. (Debbie Linder)

Since the club’s inception in the fall of 2021, they have now held three Voter Registration Drives. The first drive yielded 26 registered voters for the 2022 elections.

“We were stunned at how many kids registered to vote,” Upper School history teacher and We Will Vote Club advisor Debbie Linder said. “26 people was a lot for us.” This year’s turnout of 68 registered voters—162% higher than its first drive in 2022—demonstrates the extent of the club’s growth and impact. They plan to offer yearly opportunities to register.

We Will Vote Club partnered with the League of Women Voters (LWV) to run the drive. The LWV is an unbiased organization working toward increasing political representation by protecting and expanding voting rights. The organization provided the We Will Vote Club with information on how best to run voter drives in schools, sent a representative to provide the drive with voter registration forms and assist students in filling them out, and collected the forms for transmission to the Illinois State Board of Elections as a trusted source.

“We could not have done this drive without the League of Women Voters,” senior and We Will Vote Club Head Maggie Zeiger said, “The representative from the League, Ms. Wilder, was incredibly helpful.”

Students wearing their ‘I Registered to Vote’ stickers after registering to vote in the upcoming general election and primaries through Latin’s We Will Vote Club’s Voter Registration Drive. (Debbie Linder)

The club gave out red, white, and blue ring pops, “I Registered to Vote” stickers, and pencils inscribed with “My Vote Matters” to the new voters.

“There was no bribery involved, but we just wanted to celebrate with [the newly registered voters],” Ms. Linder said. “Students loved getting their stickers that said they had registered to vote, and wore them with pride all day.”

We Will Vote Club members took shifts to help run voter registration tables. Sophomore member Miles Stagman said, “I had a great time helping out young voters with contributing to the democratic system.”

Senior Zoe Larsen, who also volunteered at the drive, said, “I think it is one of the most important things to vote in elections because it means you are taking an active role in making the country a better place in the ways you can.” She added, “I loved seeing people register to vote, because it makes me proud to see so many other members of the Latin community exercising their rights, and privileges, to do good.”

“These drives align very well with [the We Will Vote Club’s] goals of increasing civic engagement at Latin and forming habits of lifelong voting within the student body,” Maggie said. “We felt like [drives were] a wonderful opportunity for the club to do something so impactful, especially with the 2024 primaries coming up.”

In recent years, the youth vote has become more important than ever. The 2022 midterm election saw the second highest youth voting participation rate in 30 years for a midterm election, with over 27% of people ages 18-29 voting. The last U.S. presidential election in 2020 saw approximately half of youth voting, a record high since the 1972 Nixon vs. McGovern election.

In the 2024 presidential election, 8.3 million newly eligible voters (18-19 years old in 2024) will be able to vote, prompting presidential candidates to appeal to the youth. President Biden’s reelection campaign created a TikTok account this past Sunday (@bidenhq). Vice President Kamala Harris held a nationwide “Fight for Our Freedoms College Tour” through September and October of 2023, visiting over a dozen schools in at least seven states. Former President Trump visited Iowa State University and a Clemson-South Carolina football game. Trump also published an op-ed in Newsweek titled “I Will Make America Great Again for Young People.”

“It’s important to get kids informed and know that they’re empowered to make a choice,” Ms. Linder said. “I think that students wouldn’t register on their own, and having something so easy and accessible is a great incentive to register.”

Senior Payton Rice said, “I was planning to register to vote regardless, but Latin’s drive made it a lot easier. I think we should keep doing them since it’s already an easy process, and it makes voting so much more accessible.”

Although not all of Latin’s student population was eligible to register as voting registration for the 2024 election required students to be 18 by November 5 this year, the voting drive had an impact on the student body as a whole.

While he was not eligible to register this year, junior Jackson Darke said, “The drive encouraged me to vote in the future.”

Junior Evan Stark agreed. “I felt that it was good that students were given the opportunity to vote,” he said.

Voting for this year’s primary election takes place on March 19, the Tuesday following Upper School Project Week. “The timing of this year’s election isn’t great,” Ms. Linder said. “Students might not be around to make it in person, so it’s particularly important that kids know how to vote beforehand.”

She added, “There are lots of different ways to vote like absentee and mail-in ballots, and we have to get that information out.”

“We represent the future of our country and democracy,” Maggie said. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t be voting to secure the future we want to see.”

For those who missed the drive, the club has compiled a list of resources to assist in registering to vote.