SM North students get to take official county voting machines for test run with STUCO elections

SM North students used county voting machines to elected student council officers on Wednesday.
SM North students used county voting machines to elect student council officers on Wednesday.

Today’s election of SM North’s student council leaders for the coming school year had a more formal feel than usual.

As part of a revitalized program to acquaint Johnson County teens with the voting process and encourage them to register when they turn 18, the Johnson County Election Office provided its official voting machines to the school for the day. Students filed into the library with their social studies classes, signed a registration book, and headed to an electronic kiosk with a plastic voting card just like they would do at the county polls. In the recent past, such elections had simply been conducted online.

New Johnson County Election Officer Ronnie Metsker said the county had provided its machines to area high schools for use in school elections sporadically in the past, but he had made familiarizing high schoolers with the county process a priority shortly after coming into office.

“I’d like to take it to all 28 high schools in Johnson County,” Metsker said.

Metsker said getting the voting machines into school had a number of benefits, including getting students interested in becoming election workers. State statute allows up to one-third of county election workers be 16 and 17 year olds, and Metsker thinks high schoolers who get experience setting up the polls for school elections will make excellent candidates for those positions. But the benefits go beyond worker recruitment he said. Take a listen:

Student council advisor Sara Price said she expects the use of the voting machines to help increase participation and turnout in the elections.

“It’s great to do this, especially in an election year,” Price said. “Getting students to care about voting in a real election, and also to care about who is running their school.”

SM North students ran the council election as volunteers, learning about how to man the Johnson County polls in the process.
SM North students ran the council election as volunteers, learning about how to man the Johnson County polls in the process.