With the midterm election approaching on November 8, many Berkeley High School students are signing up to be election poll workers in order to play a part in this year’s midterm elections.
In particular, BHS clubs have been participating in political activism. Recently, the BHS Teen Reproductive Justice Club sent postcards to infrequent democratic voters in Pennsylvania and Nevada.
“We were writing in favor of pro-choice candidates for the Senate,” said Maddie Metz, a senior in Academic Choice (AC) and co-leader of the Teen Reproductive Justice Club. “With the Roe v. Wade decision, our hope was to motivate Democratic voters who care about reproductive rights to go out and vote, (especially) the infrequent voters at midterm elections.”
Additionally, some BHS students have chosen to serve as election poll workers for the midterm election. According to Madeleine Regan, a poll worker for the upcoming midterms and junior in Berkeley International High School (BIHS), election workers help set up the polling areas and make sure all equipment is functional. On election day, they facilitate voting, collect ballots, and assist people with disabilities or who can’t speak English in receiving accessible voting materials.
“I think politics are interesting,” said Regan, explaining why she became an election worker. “It has a huge impact on our lives. (Also) I thought that having some experience working at the polling areas would be good because I’m interested in going into public relations or international relations and (I wanted to) understand how elections work today.”
Gemma Shabel, another poll worker and senior in BIHS, talked about the way election workers can impact politics.
“I think that voting is super important,” Shabel said. “A lot of people simply don’t vote, so doing something to encourage people to go out and vote is really important. Also making it a more positive experience, so that people (will vote) again.”
Several BHS students discussed what they had learned or gained from participating in political activism. Shabel described how being an election worker and helping others through that has helped her feel a little less hopeless.
“Times have been very stressful recently and I’ve been feeling a little bit helpless, if i’m not doing anything,” said Shabel. “So this was just a small way I found to be able to feel like I was helping a problem. … It’s useful, I think, when you’re feeling kind of helpless to go do something that could potentially help someone.”
Metz expressed how working in politics has helped her have conversations with people with different beliefs.
“I think I’ve definitely learned how to try and effectively have conversations with people who don’t see things the same way I do,” Metz said. “I think that’s like a really valuable skill in life. You’re not always going to be able to convince someone of something, but being able to have a dialogue and actually think about what they’re saying is really important.”
Stella Pfeifer, a junior in BIHS and a co-leader of Women’s Student Union, talked about whether high schoolers can have a large impact in politics.
“I think we can make such a large impact because we are the future,” Pfeifer said. “We are the ones who are going to be living in this country for the next 50+ years. We are the ones who are directly impacted by so many different issues. So I think because of that we can have a very strong impact because of how passionate and united we are.”
Metz’s advice to any highschoolers who would like to make a difference in politics is to remain patient and to strike a balance between normal life and political activism.
“Be patient with yourself,” Metz said. “It can be a pretty frustrating process when you don’t feel like you’re making a difference. But keep working at it, we need people being advocates for these issues. And try not to get too wrapped up in it. There’s a healthy balance between political activism and living your life.”