In history class, I have always read about these revolutionary elections that changed the course of history forever. However, I have never expected that I would be living through one. Before the pandemic hit, politics was not a common topic of discussion among people my age, yet when the stay-at-home orders went into place, many people my age were starting to see how government, federal and local, affects them. Whether it is tuning in to every school board meeting, watching Governor Pritzker’s daily remarks, or following the passage of the stimulus checks, people my age began to notice the role of political leadership all around them. That is why voting in this election was so important for me. I needed to vote because the while government can decide the future of the country, I can as well. All it takes is one vote.
Because this was my first election, I knew that it was important that I stayed engaged. Once the primary season ended, I realized that I wanted to have a role in this election as a volunteer, and thus, I joined a high school volunteer group for a presidential candidate. Not only did I get to call voters, but I also met politically active students all around the country. Inspired by these students and their passion, I took on a couple of leadership roles. I served as the events manager for high school women and Illinois high school students chapters. In these roles, I was able to organize events in which we called voters, participated in enriching discussions, and watched informative political documentaries. I have enjoyed my time in this organization, and I have realized that I want to continue to volunteer for candidates because it is truly amazing to help people participate in one of our most fundamental democratic processes.
I took what I learned from my volunteer work to my ballot. After calling voters about mail-in ballots, I decided to use a mail-in ballot myself. It was a fairly simple process to request a mail-in ballot, and the clerk in my community was very helpful with getting that ballot to me. When my ballot finally came in the mail, I was beyond excited. I immediately filled it out, reading each instruction carefully, thinking through each candidate and their views. The next day, I turned in my ballot to the circuit court with my dad. I went up to the dropbox, and I put my ballot in the box. I then stood there long enough waiting for the sound of my ballot hitting the bottom of the box that signaled my ballot was received. After we heard my ballot hit the bottom of the box, I turned to my dad and exclaimed, “That’s democracy for you!”
Even though it seems like the world came to a halt this past March, voting was important for me because I was voting for the future of the pandemic response, the future of my state’s tax system, and the future of my community leadership. People often dismiss that teenagers like myself have valid opinions, but this election, I offered a perspective of what a high school student wants the future to look like. It was my vote and the other record-breaking amount of votes that made this election one of the most revolutionary in our nation’s history.
Sammie Reinstein is a senior at Vernon Hills High School,
and she is a Kol Koleinu fellow. She is involved in her school’s dance team,
female empowerment club (Dare to Empower), Best Buddies, and choir. In her free
time, Sammie loves to read, watch documentaries, and catch up on the latest news
in the world of politics.