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Student ambassador program launched

10/22/2019, 3:40 p.m.
More than 30 juniors and seniors from high schools across the county recently participated in Will County Clerk, Lauren Staley ...
Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry talks with juniors and seniors from 10 different high schools during the recent "Pizza and Politics" launch of her Student Ambassador Program.

More than 30 juniors and seniors from high schools across the county recently participated in Will County Clerk, Lauren Staley Ferry’s Student Ambassador Program aimed at energizing youth participation in local elections.

Tanya Arias, from the Will County Clerk's Voter Registration Department, talks with Student Ambassadors about the importance of being involved in your local community. Arias, who was recently hired by the Will County Clerk's Office, serves with the Collins Street Neighborhood Council in Joliet and with the Spanish Community Center in Joliet.

Tanya Arias, from the Will County Clerk's Voter Registration Department, talks with Student Ambassadors about the importance of being involved in your local community. Arias, who was recently hired by the Will County Clerk's Office, serves with the Collins Street Neighborhood Council in Joliet and with the Spanish Community Center in Joliet.

The County Clerk invited interested students to visit her office for the program launch, which was dubbed "Pizza and Politics." During the event, she served pizza and talked with the students about holding non-partisan voter registration rallies at their schools.

Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry's staff registers qualifying Student Ambassadors to vote in the 2020 elections.

Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry's staff registers qualifying Student Ambassadors to vote in the 2020 elections.

Participating students came from the following high schools: Joliet West, Joliet Central, Plainfield South, Plainfield Central, Bolingbrook, Beecher, Reed-Custer, Lincoln-Way West, Wilmington, Joliet Catholic Academy, and Providence. Invitations were sent to all Will County High Schools.

The County Clerk's staff also registered students who met the qualifying age requirements to vote in next year's elections. In addition, the staff trained those who qualified to serve as Deputy Registrars to register their peers to vote.

Staley Ferry also encouraged the group to recruit qualifying students to serve as Election Night workers or as Election Judges on Election Day. She noted that the Student Ambassadors also can serve in both capacities if they qualify.

Students who will be 17 years old during the March 17, 2020 Primary Election but who will be 18 years old on the Nov. 3, 2020 Presidential Election can register to vote and may cast ballots in both elections. Per Illinois statute (10 ILCS 5/3-6), these students also may qualify to serve as Deputy Registrars.

Election Judges earn $150 serving in Polling Places on Election Day. And Election Night workers earn money assisting with Election Night duties at the County Clerk's Office. To serve as Election Judges, students must be juniors or seniors in good standing with their school and have a Grade Point Average of 3.0 or higher. They also must receive permission from their parents and the school principal.

"My goal is for this group of energetic Student Ambassadors to encourage their friends and classmates not only to vote in next year's elections but to participate in the election process," Staley Ferry said. "If our democracy is to remain vibrant, we must empower our students to become involved, to use their voices, and to vote." The County Clerk tasked the Student Ambassadors with hosting at least one school-related voter registration rally, to submit contact information for 10 fellow students who are interested in serving as Election Judges or Election Night workers, and to register as many qualifying students as possible to vote.

The County Clerk's staff stressed on multiple occasions that involvement in the program is non-partisan, most importantly when they are serving as a Deputy Registrar, and that they should not encourage classmates to vote for a specific candidate or cause in any race.

Staley Ferry noted that serving in the Student Ambassador Program would provide participants with valuable experience that will enhance college and employment applications. Those who complete the program requirements will receive official recognition from the County Clerk and other Will County officials. But most importantly, she hopes the program will inspire a lifetime of civic involvement.

For more information on getting involved in the Student Ambassador Program call 815-740 4617.