DePaul Prep students vote for first time, work polling places, for mayoral runoff


On April 4, Brandon Johnson, former public school teacher and union organizer, was elected mayor of Chicago. In the DePaul Prep community, many seniors voted for the first time, while several other students got involved in the election in other ways.

Senior Lexi Hallgren used the mayoral election as a stepping stone into her future of voting. Though she did not initially know much about the process or candidate research that is entailed with voting, she used the resources around her to become as knowledgeable as she could for her first voting experience. 

“I learned about the candidates by watching their panels and listening to trusted adults about their opinions. I learned a lot about how specific policies would affect me and my family over others.” 

Hallgren explains how the build up to her decision on who to vote for was not as simple as it may seem, but as soon as she walked into her local polling station, she was very welcomed.  

“When I got there they all cheered for me as a first time voter and were surprised that 2005 kids could already vote. It was a very fun experience.” 

Senior Max Kadjan, also a first time voter, decided to use the mayoral election as a way to grow as a voter, as well as realize his profound interest in the importance that voting holds. 

“It was important for me because I was able to contribute my beliefs by putting my trust in someone that I believe can stand for some of the issues I would like to see resolved.”

Kadjan also went on to explain how it was not just the voting process that was exciting, but also the registration, because it was his first look into the world of a voter. 

“I had to sit down at a desk with a voting proctor and verify my date of birth, precinct, and have at least two forms of identification.” 

For some, the process was easy. Senior Shane Leonard asserted that for him it was, “very easy and all of the people were really kind.”

Leonard learned a lot about the candidates and process from what his parents had on TV and some local news outlets. 

“I came in, signed a voting registration form and then went over to the polling booth in my neighborhood to vote.”

Not only were the DePaul Prep seniors a part of this past election, but a few of the younger members of the student body aided the election process as well. 

Junior Riley Klich was a community worker at her local polling place, which she described as an essential learning experience for her future voting and work ethic. 

“I had to learn how to work with people I have never met before since we were together for 13 hours.” 

Klich went on to explain that handing out forms to voters and assisting them to register online was much more interesting than it may seem. 

“I was put in a precinct close to my house so a lot of the people coming in were people from my own community and neighborhood that I’ve never met before. It’s kind of interesting because I met a lot of people from my own community then I would not have if I weren’t working the election.” 

Junior Finley Gauger also worked at his local polling place. This was not his first time, as he worked the election in February as well as the runoff election in April. His job of greeting voters, processing voters, and assisting voters gave Gauger skills that he is planning on taking with him through his future voting life.

“I learned a lot from this experience. First, how to vote. I have never been in a polling place before, so seeing how the process went was very new to me. This experience also helped me to prepare to vote in the future.” 

Gauger was immersed in new topics and ideas, especially from the individuals who worked alongside him. 

“I also learned from the people who I worked the election with — the importance of being educated on the candidates and figuring out which candidate represents your values the best.”