Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton came to Hawthorne Middle/High School on Wednesday to help students register to vote for the upcoming elections.
Over two dozen students 16 to 18 years old either registered or pre-registered. Barton’s office has had similar successes in other Alachua County public schools, registering over 100 students in Gainesville High School alone, according to outreach director TJ Pyche.
Some students, like 18-year-old Mickel Crawford, said they probably would have never registered without help from the Supervisor of Elections’ office. Crawford said he was convinced after seeing how easy the process was.
“Every vote counts, and since I’m already registered, I might as well vote,” he said.
Barton said the county has been helping high schoolers get registered to vote since 1993.
“It’s so funny that you see people say ‘I vote now because you taught us that our vote makes a difference,’” she said. “It makes me feel good that it’s something that I’ve said that makes them feel empowered.”
She said students sometimes feel like they can’t make any impact because of their age, and she has to remind them that a vote from an 18-year-old counts just as much as anybody else’s.
“We are here to really let them know the importance of voting, why it’s important, and that their vote can make a difference,” she said. “People always say that their vote doesn’t really make a difference, but one vote adds up to another.”
As part of the Supervisor of Elections’ visit to Hawthorne, Pyche educated seniors at the school on the history of voting rights in the U.S., as well as some of the things they can expect on the ballot this November.
So far Pyche has visited Gainesville High, Buchholz, Eastside High, Newberry High and Hawthorne. He has plans to visit Santa Fe and Loften high schools this week.
Primary election day is August 28, with early voting beginning on August 18. U.S. citizens must be registered to vote by July 30 to participate in the primary.