Cal High students get involved in 2020 presidential election


Photo courtesy of Kimi Shirai

Cal High senior Kimi Shirai drops off her ballot at the dropbox inside San Ramon City Hall. Shirai is among the many Cal students participating in this year’s election by either voting or volunteering.

Gaby Jimenez, Opinions Editor

This story can also be viewed in our November 2020 Features Issue under the Print section of our website.

It’s been four years since the last presidential election. That means on Nov. 3, American citizens have another election to either look forward to or dread. 

An election as critical to the nation as this has become a topic of conversation for everyone, including Cal High students.

From watching the news during dinnertime to logging on to Instagram, the political rampage always seems to catch people’s gazes, especially the YouTube advertisements of President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden. The interesting thumbnails are so hard to not click on and dislike because many students only clicked on YouTube to watch Among Us live streams and nothing more.

“If you look around you, you can see the news, it’s always reporting about it,” sophomore Advika Rajaraman said. “Pretty much all of the media is talking about it, so our life pretty much revolves around it.”

Posts on social media have been a popular way to show engagement in political matters. Like Rajaraman, lots of students who are unable to vote or register to vote have been taking action on social media in order to make their voices and opinions heard. 

“I personally do post a lot of stuff on my social media, I feel like as long as I get information out there it’s going to be seen by other people who can also spread it,” Rajaraman said. “Even if I’m informing one person, that’s still going to be one person that’s informed and knows what’s going on.”

An opportunity for students who can’t vote but still want to be a part of this election is to volunteer at polling places, which play a significant role in the voting process. 

With the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, it has become more difficult for older citizens who normally work the polls.  The better option is teenage volunteers, who have a lower risk of being severely affected by the virus. 

Many teens have been asked to help volunteer at the polls. Senior Audrey Zhang was informed of the opportunity from a friend.

“Since I can’t vote, it’s a really good way to get involved in my community,” Zhang said. 

In order to volunteer, Zhang said she was required to attend multiple training sessions to learn what to do in case people try to cast their vote without wearing a mask.

“This year, hopefully, we don’t have any anti-maskers because the protocol in terms of how many people we can have in a room and how masks are mandatory is very strict,” Zhang said.

Other Cal students, such as senior Kinsey Peterlinz, have been finding more ways to be part of the election by working with organizations such as New Voters. Peterlinz is volunteering with New Voters, an organization that encourages teens in high school to give their full participation and awareness in election matters.

“They help to reach out to different colleges and high school students who are passionate about getting people to register to vote and they have them run text banks all throughout America in different locations,” Peterlinz said. “The whole message is to encourage people to vote.”

These text banks help ensure that high school students who are eligible to vote register as soon as they can to be as involved as possible. 

Numerous teens are still unaware of how much they can contribute to the election process, and New Voters are there to not only remind them to be part of the election but also how to do that. 

“We live in California and because of that, the voting registration age is 16 and that means a lot of high school students can register to vote,” Peterlinz said. “Because we’re not taught about [voting] a lot in school or anything like that, you kind of have to learn it on your own.” 

The biggest group of teens most able to impact the election are 18 year olds. 

“It’s really important to me to finally be making a difference, putting my voice into the world,” said senior Sam Gilstrap, who voted for the first time this year. “I’m voting for the future and for the future of all of this generation and future generations.”

These new adults are able to provide representation for younger people who are unable to vote and have to tolerate the outcome of elected leaders’ actions longer than older people.

“If 18 year olds couldn’t vote, a huge group of people would be misrepresented or not represented at all in politics,” Gilstrap said.

The upcoming presidential election has gotten everyone participating, and there is much we Cal High students can do to help support it.