Local

McHenry County voter registration drive nets high school students

As a result of a November voter registration drive at four McHenry County high schools, about 250 students now may cast ballots during the spring primary season.

McHenry West High School’s Kaili Wegener, who started McHenry County Rocks the Vote, is hoping to expand voter registration to even more local high schools so more students are ready to vote in Illinois’ March 17, 2020, primary election.

Earlier this month, McHenry County Rocks the Vote partnered with four high schools – McHenry East, McHenry West, Prairie Ridge and Woodstock – to host voter registration drives. Wegener, a senior at West and co-president of the McHenry Activism Club, said she is pleased with the interest students have in becoming registered.

“It’s amazing to see what kind of influence teens can have,” Wegener said. “You get to have a direct influence on what’s going on around you.”

McHenry Activism Club members worked during lunch hours at East and West campuses to help register voters. They encouraged students to register online through the Illinois State Board of Election. Also, the club’s adviser, English teacher Stacy Rockweiler, and social science teacher Andrew Stegenga were able to do in-person voter registration.

During the big push on Nov. 14, 115 new voters registered at West and 51 registered at East. McHenry High School teachers posted the reasons why they vote on social media to encourage eligible students to register.

Fourteen voters registered at Woodstock High School, while 53 voters registered at Prairie Ridge High School, Wegener said. Wegener said she’s hoping to expand the effort to Crystal Lake Central and Richmond-Burton high schools next time. She’s also looking to see if club members can set up tables at sporting events, school plays and other events to register adults, as well.

Students are eligible to register to vote, and vote in the primary election, as long as they will be 18 by the Nov. 3, 2020, general election.

The voter-registration drive is one of several projects coordinated by the McHenry Activism Club. Other projects include hosting International Women’s Day events and launching campaigns to encourage voting.

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