Senior Stephanie Teazis learned this the hard way on Election Day this past Tuesday when she left school early to make the seven-mile car ride to the closest voting station in town.
She then ran into another obstacle when she was told she had incorrectly filled out some of her paperwork, forcing her to haggle with election officials to let her to vote.
In a panicked fever, Stephanie was ready to catch a train and all the way to her hometown of Huntington Beach to make her voice heard. Luckily, there was a mood of leniency at the polling station and she was allowed to cast a provisional ballot.
“It was surreal,” said Stephanie, who afterward stood beaming outside of the polling place proudly wearing her “I Voted” sticker. “I’m excited and I want to know who’s president!”
As is not uncommon in a high school, a handful of mature senior students at Ojai Valley School voted for the first time this November, adding their voices to the estimated 126 million people nationwide who took part in a presidential race that saw President Barack Obama defeat GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
Every two years a small group of high school seniors are granted this privilege. According to a recent Gallup poll, 13% of voters in 2008 classified themselves as “first time voters,” with that statistic expected to stay the about the same this year.
Many seniors feel the immense responsibility that comes with being allowed to vote.
“I feel like I’m fulfilling my duties for my country, as an informed citizen,” said senior Tim Waian, who cast his vote in Camarillo. “It feels great to have my voice be heard.”
The privilege to vote comes hand in hand with the pride that many students at Ojai Valley School feel towards doing their civic duty.
“I feel proud to represent myself and my country,” Jared Silverman said. “Because I love my country.”
In early October, in an attempt to prepare seniors for the realities of voting, the government class got a visit from several Ventura County election officials in order to shed light on the voting process.
Students were given the opportunity to vote for random famous people on mock ballots. They were even allowed to feed their ballots into a real voting machine to get the full experience.
“Since President Obama’s election, I have noticed that young people, at least here, are more into election process and more of them are registering,” government teacher Laurel Colborn said. “What he did four years ago – especially with the use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media – has changed elections, I’ve seen it in my classroom.”
By Jack Beverly, Class of 2013Share