Take advantage of your right to vote

Drawing by Leah Brieva.

Drawing by Leah Brieva.


It has become clear that Evanston is one of the more politically active communities in the area, if not the nation. Earlier this month, our own student body demonstrated this with mass attendance and involvement in the March 14 walkout for gun control — with dozens of parents and community members attending the protests in solidarity. As valuable as such activism is, we cannot let our political involvement extend only into an ideological sphere; we must translate our beliefs into action, specifically at the ballot box.

Earlier this week, Illinois primary elections for Governor, State Congress, District Judgeships and many other state wide positions were held. Many Evanstonians turned out; many students did not, effectively undermining their capacity for affecting change at a local or national level. No matter the rigor with which we preach activism, ignoring one’s right to vote is ignoring one’s civic responsibility.

The ability to vote is not only a non-universal right (more than one billion internationally live in either one-party or non-voting states), it is a necessity in any productive democracy.  We can’t let our recent display of solidarity convince us that our work is done; in fact, it is now more important than ever that we, the youth of Evanston, Illinois and America, take true initiative to ensure that our own voices are heard, regardless of what these voices are saying.

According to research commissioned by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, in 2014, Evanston had over 4,000 undocumented citizens. This is a sizable portion of the community that does not necessarily have a voice in local politics — at least not at the polls. Regardless of citizenship, all residents of Evanston contribute to the culture and ideals of the city, all residents deserve to be heard. Those with access to the vote must use their power to advocate for such residents.  To echo junior Liana Wallace — who performed a spoken word poem at the walkout — we’ve seen something, now we must say something, in our school, in our homes and at the polls.   This quote does not only apply to one political party.  Regardless of where your political beliefs fall, it is important to take action at the ballot box.  This is a privilege and, as American citizens, the best way for your voice to be heard.

So, if you’re a student that is eligible to vote in the Nov. 6 General Elections (i.e students that will be 18 by Nov. 6), it is your duty not only to yourself but to your fellow community members to not only register to vote, but to educate yourself on the issues and candidates (yes, for all offices) at contest in the coming election.

  These calls to action stand even for those who are not old enough to vote. Underclassman: flood the phone lines of your representatives, educate yourself and others and volunteer in your community to show support for your local, state and national representatives. Register your peers to vote. Organize protests. Hold your politicians accountable for their actions. If you’re eligible for suffrage, get excited about voting and, when the time comes, exercise the privilege that you’ve been given.

We at the Evanstonian believe that while activism may begin with an action, such as the walkout, it is practiced repeatedly at the polls to effect change in our community.