Ava Kaminski, a senior at La Follette, understands that many policy areas in the U.S. affect youth her age including education and human rights issues and the juvenile justice system. That’s why she is passionate about getting more young people involved in the political process.
"This election is important to me because I can’t just sit back and let things happen while there are so many injustices going on in the world,” said Ava.
This year, Ava and other juniors and seniors at her high school organized the group, La Follette Votes - an initiative dedicated to ensuring MMSD seniors who are 18 years old and eligible to vote have all the information they need to navigate the election process for the first time.
"We’re offering support for students who need help registering to vote and finding out where to vote,” said Ava. “We’ve worked closely with the district on student voting presentations and digital resources for how to register online”.
As a first time voter, Ava is eager and ecstatic to make her voice heard in the 2020 United States presidential election where U.S. citizens will either elect a new president, Joe Biden and vice president, Kamala Harris or reelect the incumbents, Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
Ava and her mother participated in early voting this year, where voters cast their ballot in person ahead of election day. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything about the 2020 election has changed. From voter registration challenges to disrupted polling sites, Ava is not letting voting barriers get in the way of her participation in the democratic process.
"Instead of door-to-door canvassing, I’ve been doing phonebanking and I’ll be working at the polls on election day,” said Ava. “I’m excited to see how the voting process works, this is something we haven’t learned in school, but I get to have a behind the scenes look at how the votes are collected. And the money I’m paid for working the polls on election night will go toward my college savings.”
Ava hopes that after she graduates in 2021, the La Follette Votes group she organized continues to help MMSD seniors and first time voters get the information they need to vote in local and national government elections.
Voter registration initiatives like La Follette Votes are also active at other MMSD high schools including East, West and Memorial. With more than 800 18-year-old students in the district currently, juniors and seniors have come together collectively to support each other with voter and election resources and to ensure that each student that wants to vote in November can participate in the democratic process.
Check out this brief video of Ava describing what democracy looks like to her and what motivated her to organize the La Follette Votes initiative.
- Marlita Bevenue, MMSD Communications