By BRETT ABRAMS | Intern
The 2020 Presidential Election included some elements of a bestselling thriller: It grabbed the attention of the audience and never let go.
Palisades Charter High School students were not passive observers in this nail-biting election. Some seniors had the opportunity to vote for the first time. Other students who couldn’t were involved in various ways.
Pali High senior Valentina Silardi, who turned 18 years old in September, had the opportunity to vote in her first presidential election this year. Silardi received her ballot through the mail and spent three days filling it out before dropping it off at her local library.
“I think the hardest part was making decisions that affect people’s lives that I’ve never experienced,” Silardi said.
Although the research process was strenuous, she shared that she felt it was necessary, saying, “I wanted to make sure I knew who or what I was voting for.”
On the other side of the voting process, Pali High senior Milly Hopkins was one of many Americans who worked at the polls this election. Hopkins, was stationed at both the Barrington and Palisades Recreation centers.
She first saw the opportunity through Schoology—an online platform used by Pali High that allows communication between students, teachers and administration—and enthusiastically enlisted as a poll worker.
Although she previously worked on the Ohio Victory Campaign, Hopkins claimed, “The local election, and being a part of the democratic process, felt really important to me.”
Hopkins was entrusted with an array of responsibilities, such as checking in voters, assisting voters with operating machines and technology, setting up insignia to simplify the voting process, and consistently sanitizing materials and surfaces.
Most importantly, Hopkins made sure all the ballots were filled out correctly.
“Little things like dates, signatures or missing a middle name can void a vote,” Hopkins explained.
Although she was concerned about what her experience would entail, Hopkins said that she enjoyed working at the polls. She feels like the experience was both informative and refreshing because of the “different conversations with people from different walks of life.”
The rapport between Hopkins and her fellow poll workers added to her positive experience. Despite having contrasting political beliefs and ideology, Hopkins felt the atmosphere was one of mutual respect.
“I think something that’s a really grand ideal, like protecting the vote, gets a lot of integritous, down-to-earth, really fun people who I think share a lot of the same really good values,” Hopkins said.
Not yet 18, Pali High Senior Class President Michael Brent IV shared frustration with his own inability to vote: “It’s angering to see such a polarizing election go down, and to be so aware, yet not be able to be a part of it as much as you want.”
Instead, Brent devoted his efforts to encourage voting participation in this year’s election, sharing that he simply tried “to get as many people involved” as possible.
His attempts to encourage participation in voting included phone banking, emphasizing voter registration, reaching out to friends and family, and simply staying up-to-date on important policies.
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