Though the vast majority of Edina High School students will not be able to vote in the next presidential election, there are other opportunities for students to play a part in the electoral process—more importantly, these opportunities are right at their fingertips.
More than a year out from election day, passionate students are already putting in the time to volunteer for local political campaigns. Between the Edina school board, state legislature, national congress, and even the presidential elections, campaigns are making room for students to get involved. Senior Shin Bee Waldron frequently volunteers for Minnesotan presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar. “I think overall, it’s helped me become more aware of politics, but also how a campaign works. It’s been cool to see how important the campaign is and how many people run it,” Waldron said of the experience.
From attending parades to gathering contact information to traditional door to door canvassing, volunteering for a candidate can include participating in a myriad of activities depending on the scope of the election. Finding a campaign to assist is often as straightforward as calling a campaign office or taking a look at their website as most have a dedicated volunteer page for interested constituents.
For students looking for a bipartisan way to increase voter access, an election judge might be just the job. According to the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, the age requirement for trainees is 16. Election judges work only on primary and general election days, so the time commitment doesn’t exceed a few days. It also offers optional pay. While it may seem like an unrewarding job, this is not the case—a large obstacle to voters come election day can be the inefficiency of polling locations; helping out at a local polling site could make major differences.
Another way to help increase votership is to register local voters. League of Women Voters Edina, which has registered voters at EHS on occasions like Get Connected Day, has many similar volunteer opportunities for interested members of their organization. It’s also possible to register voters independently, if you’re ambitious, by hosting a voter registration drive or simply encouraging your friends to register.
So how can students make sure they have an impact on election day, even if most can’t vote? Reach out to local campaigns and organizations in the area or find a way to involve yourself independently—youth-led movements can be started by anyone, anytime. By doing something as seemingly simple as registering a voter, you are making sure all voices in your community are accounted for. So, for any interested students, don’t be discouraged from taking action, and, if necessary, look to your peers for encouragement. “It takes some guts [but] it’s not a scary process, so definitely go for it,” Waldron said.