Chicago students pick up lifelong lessons while serving as election judges

Karen Jordan Image
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Students pick up lifelong lessons while serving as election judges
Some of the students are serving as electoral judges thanks to the Mikva Challenge, which works to get young people involved in public service.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Voting wouldn't be possible without the efforts of hundreds of people behind the scenes, including some young students who felt inspired to be part of the election process.

Naysa Sutherlin is doing her part to make sure this South Shore polling place is running smoothly.

This is the Lincoln Park High School senior's third time as a student electoral judge, thanks to the Mikva Challenge, an organization that works to get young people involved in public service.

Sutherlin said she enjoys having a front seat to the democratic process.

"Things might get chaotic at times, I make sure to keep on my best smile and just remind myself that these people to vote to change their communities and changes everyone's futures," Sutherlin said.

More than 800 student judges are serving across the city this Election Day. Sutherlin said she has always wanted to exercise her civic duty and said that each time, she has been inspired.

"I once met a lady who was telling me about how she never missed a year of voting and it's those experiences that keep me coming back," Sutherlin said.

The student election judges are treated like any other poll worker, getting the same 4 hours of training and earning up to $250 for their time. But Mikva Challenge officials say they come away from this experience with a lifelong appreciation for being involved in the political process.

"We know that students who work as election judges are more than 90% likely to become lifelong voters," said Leah Brown, with Mikva Challenge.

And Sutherlin is on that track, having been a student electoral judge twice before she was old enough to vote.

"Today marks the first time I've voted myself and it's this experience that makes me want to keep voting in the future," Sutherlin said.