Going to the Ballot Box: Voting at Packer
Over the past two years, members of the Packer community have been embodying the phrase in the mission statement, “act with purpose and heart,” be it though organizing protests or starting conversations within the community. However, this attitude does not escape out of the building, as most New Yorkers often overlook the most important action any citizen can make: casting a ballot. As the midterm elections draw nearer, eligible voters, both new and old, struggle with the long-asked question: does my vote matter?
The widespread political activism that is widespread in New York is a point of pride for many who live here, but this movement is not reflected in the state’s voting numbers. According to PolitiFact, in all the federal elections between 1998-2014, New York never placed better than 35th among US states in voter turnout. Many New Yorkers justify not voting by assuming that the Democratic Party will win.
Ines Moix (‘19), who is voting for the first time this year, does not share this opinion. “I don’t think that’s a smart response when you are thinking of voting,” she said. “Just because you think that other people will vote for what you think is right doesn’t mean [that] they actually will.”
Another senior, Jing Jing Kneale, also plans on voting “because it’s important to act upon your right when you’re of age. It’s very simple and powerful….By voting, you are making your voice heard by society. It’s the opportunity to influence the government.”
Mr. Louis Minsky, an Upper School Computer Science teacher, works to increase voting every chance he gets.
“Around election time, every time I meet someone, I say, ‘Oh, are you registered to vote?’ and I’m always surprised by how many people aren’t,” he explained. “Even if you decided to vote, if you’re not registered you can’t.” His activism extends inside of Packer, as he often encourages staff and faculty to register. “The majority of the staff that I talk to votes already, and they are going to do it either way. Last year there were two people who I talked to who weren’t registered at all. I registered both of them.”
He also came to junior and senior graderooms last year to encourage voter registration among students and has even personally contacted seniors who are of age. Mr. Minsky says the results of these endeavors have been “not as successful as I [would] have liked…I talked to the seniors about it a lot last year, and I probably got ten people to register. Ten people total, current seniors and last year’s seniors.”
While small in number, the seniors who have registered are looking forward to the opportunity. ““It’s a new responsibility for me,” said Ines. “I’m proud to be able to do it… when you’re not 18, especially now, a lot of young people are involved in politics and trying to make a difference, but you can only do so much because you’re not 18. It’s allowing me to do something that’s meaningful.”