Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

Panther Press

Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

Panther Press

Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

Panther Press

Students register to vote during lunchtime drive

Senior Luke DiBonaventura organized a voter registration drive for eligible new voters.
Rhys Hals
Seniors Jason “Chunk” Williams and Jaden Jauregui use Chromebook stations to register to vote during lunch on Thursday, October 13.
Luke DiBonaventura ’23 (Ruth Young)

Living in a swing-state and with the mid-term elections only weeks away, senior Luke DiBonaventura has been organizing a voter registration drive to encourage his 18-year-old classmates to vote in Pennsylvania’s high-stakes races.

Supported by social studies teacher Ms. Alissa Harvey, DiBonaventura has spent his lunches handing out candy to seniors taking the five minutes to register themselves on the provided Chromebooks. As a further incentive, newly registered students can win a $25 Wawa gift card in a raffle.

The second day of the drive will occur Friday, October 14, in the entrance to the cafeteria. Students that will be 18 by November 8 are eligible to register.

On the Wednesday before the first day of the drive, DiBonaventura discussed his motivation for planning the registration drive. 

What inspired you to run the voter registration drive that you are running?

“Well, I have a general passion for politics and more importantly, general citizenry, you know, stuff like that. And I wanted to try and close the disparity between our young people that register to vote and actually do vote and older people, as younger people are underrepresented in that demographic.”

So what are your goals for the next two days?

“The goal for the next few days is to one, register new people but to also figure out who already is registered. So that way, we can get a better understanding of what percentage of our population is actually registered to vote. That way, we can better target them in future drives.”

There’s a pretty small percentage in the overall school population that is eligible to vote. Do you hope that just having this voter registration drive will have any wider effect on those who aren’t able to vote?

Yeah, that will be a goal. I think any anytime you sort of see voting participation happen, it can encourage people to consider when they will next be eligible to vote. And it can, I think, can also just encourag that in the future. There’s also the hope that this will not be the only drive this year, and there’ll be a drive later on in the school year, closer to graduation, right before we leave the school, where most of the senior population will be eligible to vote.”

Have you faced any challenges in organizing this?

Yeah, the biggest challenge has really just been that it’s mainly just been me doing it. I’ve had a lot of help from Ms. Harvey. But there’s been a lot of just like, communication about certain details, that takes time. Just general stuff where it takes a lot of time to get approved. Things like that. And there’s also the challenge of making sure it’s nonpartisan. So that it’s, safe, free, fair.

 So you yourself, you’re not currently eligible to vote. Has this impacted your overall political motivation, that you personally can’t vote? 

I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that people who can’t vote can’t have an impact on things. And I think that’s very untrue. That’s why I actually want to organize them like this to have an impact. Even though I personally can’t vote, I still feel that doing this will have an impact. So that’s what I would want to encourage other people to do.

A common misconception about voting is that your personal vote doesn’t matter. What would you say to a student that has that mindset?

Yeah, I think a lot of that comes down to a lot of our politics being viewed as this national thing and being viewed in the thousands and the tens of thousands, stuff like that. But really, when you look at the local stuff, which is arguably just as important, if not more important, it’s really a lot closer and can come down to a hundred or so votes, so your vote in local races matters a whole great deal. And really, what it is, is this understanding that we all do it. So if we all show up to do it, if none of us show up to do it, then there won’t be that difference in voting.”

What advice do you have for first time voters who are just registering to vote?

My biggest advice is, well, I would say bring a friend with you to vote, you know, make it a little bit more of an event. It’s your first time voting, it should be fun. And also make sure that you are informed on the candidates, not just coming in just knowing two candidates, maybe also look at some of the down ballot candidates and stuff like that. Lower on the ballot candidates, not down ballot, lower on the ballot candidates.”

I know you’re someone that’s passionate about politics, how else have you been involved in the political world?

Well, I have volunteered on several different campaigns, mainly for the Democratic Party. This drive will remain nonpartisan but my work has primarily been to benefit Democrat campaigns.”

Do you have anything else to add?

No, just vote. Vote when you can, register when you can. Look up when you’re next eligible to register and register a friend.”

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Rhys Hals '23
Rhys Hals '23, Haven Happenings Editor
Rhys Hals is a senior and leader of Sunrise Club at Strath Haven. She enjoys crocheting, listening to music, and hanging out with her kitten in her free time.
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