Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=102683
Story Retrieval Date: 5/19/2013 7:02:20 PM CST
Most people take voting seriously, but for Hannah Basil it’s already a way of life.
Basil, a freshly minted 18, wants to be part of the political history that experts are predicting will take place on Election Day. Political pundits and campaign officials are all expecting a large rise in the youth vote based on a bump in voter registration.
If Basil is indicative of how young voters function, that may be a good thing.
“It’s kind of like a stepping stone from kid to adult in a way. I just turned 18,” Basil said, “and it’s like now I can voice my opinion along with adults, and not be looked at as a child.”
Basil, a resident of Lincoln Square, expects a sense of satisfaction after casting a ballot for the first time.
“I think it will feel pretty cool,” Basil said. “I am excited. I have all my little papers ready to go in, and I think I’ll feel like I accomplished something. I did this.”
Besides the voting, Basil is getting involved with the election in every way she can, taking advantage of each opportunity to feel as though she is a part of the process.
“It’s such a cool election to be a part of, and I am trying to get involved in as many things as I can,” Basil said.
That need to be involved spurred Basil to undertake the task of registering 100 percent of eligible voters at Northside College Prep, where she is a senior. She succeeded, registering 52 new voters.
“I know that some of them would not have registered without it, so the idea is that once they are registered it’s easier for them to vote. I think not registering is used as a cop out,” Basil said.
Basil voted early, freeing up her time on Election Day so she can serve as an election judge. In training for the position, Basil not only had to learn the duties involved with the position, she had to learn how to vote first.
The Obama campaign’s efforts to target young volunteers with new technology has allowed Basil to get involved. She has volunteered time to the campaign, taking full advantage of the social networking initiatives undertaken by the campaign.
“It’s easy to get involved at this point if you have a computer,” Basil said. “Kids are already on Facebook and stuff like that, so we already understand the concept. It’s like second nature.”
When making a decision over whom to vote for, Basil took the task seriously. While she was fairly certain Obama was her candidate, she made it a point to watch the Republican National Convention speeches on YouTube. She felt like, to vote, it was necessary to hear what both sides were saying.
Education and the economy are issues Basil sees as crucial this year. Her personal experience in the Chicago Public School System has left her with both an appreciation for the opportunities she has been given and a hope that others can experience the same.
“I think that every student should have the same opportunity, and a quality education no matter where they are born, and where they live,” Basil said. “That is definitely not the case in Chicago.”
As for young people’s political attitudes in general, Basil thinks it is difficult to classify her generation.
“I think there is a pretty wide spectrum,” Basil said. “I think there are people who are more engaged and aware of what’s going on. I also think there are kids who either aren’t concerned about anything or just go by what their parents believe.”
Ultimately, Basil just hopes that other young people take advantage of the opportunity to let their voices be heard.
“Sure, one individual vote in a vacuum might not count, but if everyone has that mindset, it adds up,” Basil said. “I think young people are one of the largest demographic blocs. We do have a huge voice.”