Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Students discuss first voting experience


Sydney Yalshevec

Several students in Jeri Ferguson's civics class cast their first-ever ballot on Tuesday.

Several new faces cast their ballots for the first time on Tuesday.

Jeri Ferguson, a Kimball High School civics teacher, led several of her students into the Kimball Event Center Tuesday to vote in the election. It was the first time voting for students Colton Stull, Ryan Muneio, Jodell Schulte, Jobany Martinez, AJ Spicer and Michael Ferguson.

After they voted the students all gathered in the entry area of the event center.

"I think it's really important that we vote because it's how we can make a difference," Schulte said.

Many of the students said voting is the way to inspire change in the community.

"It's important because a lot of people complain that they wish things were different in the government and in the system, and voting is a way to express that opinion and inspire change," Michael Ferguson said.

Spicer brought up the point that the privilege of voting was fought for and should be taken advantage of.

"People fought for our right to vote, so we should respect that by voting," Spicer said.

The young voters also felt that it was their duty to act on what had been established by the founding fathers of this country.

"Our founding fathers built this country on this idea to vote, so we respect an honor them by doing it," Stull said.

All these students were voting for the first time, and as a result, they had mixed feelings.

"I was excited and it made you feel proud," Martinez said.

"I was nervous. I was worried I'd mess up," Muneio said.

Many new voters are apprehensive to do so because of the fear that they may do it wrong. This is why it important for schools and parents to teach their soon-to-be voters how to vote. Having students familiarize themselves with sample ballots and the issues that will be on the ballot is a way to help them build confidence when it comes to voting.

Jeri Ferguson offered up some of her insights concerning what she did to prepare her students for their first time voting.

"Having them put on the public forum to help educate our community also allowed them to take a closer look at the issues on the ballot and to get to know the local candidates. The students also had to put up information windows about the state and national candidates so that way they are informed about everyone who is running.  I also have Cathy Sibal come into my classroom to explain the process of voting, the seriousness of voting, the polling place and the poll workers.  At that time anyone who was old enough to register to vote and wanted to was able to do that," she said.

Working exclusively with young adults who will be voting soon, Ferguson has made an effort to instill two things in her students.

"The two things I hope that I am able to instill in my students it that voting is a right and privilege and that men and women on a hourly bases are out there willing to die to protect that right.  Out of respect for that sacrifice we need to vote.  The second is I say to them do not complain to me about the decisions being made if you do not vote.  Voting is your chance to have a say, to voice your opinion," Ferguson said.

Ferguson also suggests that the reason some young people in the community might not be willing to vote is that they cannot see the difference that can be made by one vote. However, by sharing with the students why she feels it is important to vote she hopes to get encourage them to do so as well.

"It is my job as a citizen of this country, state and county to be actively involved and one way to do that is to voice my opinion through voting.  Plus I feel a deep since of gratitude towards the men and women who have served and continue to serve this country protecting my right to vote so I need to do my part and vote."


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