For high schoolers who are looking forward to voting in future elections, Governor Pritzker recently signed a law that will make the process much easier for Illinois teens. The law, signed on Jan. 22, will allow students to be excused from school for up to two hours to vote. This is a strong step forward for students wanting to become more involved in politics or for those who are already excited to vote in their first election.
Unfortunately, for most current seniors, the law does not go into effect until July 1. This means students will be unable to receive the excused absence in order to vote in the primary election on Mar. 17. However, students who will be 18 by November’s general election will be able to miss class so they can vote. A news release from the governor’s office said students will be excused to vote in primary, general and special elections or any election in which propositions are submitted to a popular vote. The schools will also be able to set specific times during which the students can be excused.
This law will help many students who, despite the extended voting times, may be unable to vote because of time constraints. This could be due to early morning classes, extracurriculars or after-school jobs. While Illinois does have early voting up to forty days before the election, some students are unaware of this. Additionally, it is important for students to feel welcomed to the voting process. This includes going to the polls on Election Day and actively involving oneself. This law is also special because the idea was brought to fruition by a group of high school students. Students from two high schools outside Chicago brought the idea to state Senator Elgie Sims. Sims and others in the Illinois General Assembly worked to pass the law. In a news release Sims stated, “The advocacy of the students in my district convinced me I had to sponsor this legislation, and their passion helped get it over the finish line.” This is further proof that young voters who are passionate about change can help their community in ways that will have a positive impact on the lives of them and their peers.