The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

Young Democrats join campaign effort

LM students are more involved in the Democratic primary than ever before, with the goal of increasing youth voice in elections.

During the fall of 2023, LM students ran voter registration events and engaged in local party conventions, contributing a greater effort to election preparations than ever before. This involvement builds on the events of last year, when LM was awarded the Gold Governor’s Civic Engagement Award for registering over 85 percent of eligible students.

LM Democrats has led events and initiatives to increase voter turnout, including a voter registration booth before a showing of the LM Players’ Production of The Play That Goes Wrong. Their goal was to register students as well as parents and community members, who were watching the production. According to Noah Barkan ’24, president of LM Dems, 74 people have been registered this year. Continuing outreach and registration efforts, LM Dems aims to register 85 percent percent of the eligible student body before the online registration deadline on April 8.

That same week, LM Dems also hosted a petition signing event that encouraged LM students over the age of 18 to sign ballot petitions for candidates to ensure they could receive a spot on the ballot in the upcoming primary election on April 23. The after-school event was run by student leaders Alexa Saler ’25, Aliyah Brownstein ’25, Emma Maurer ’24, Matt Izzo ’23, Noah Barkan ’24, Jonah Vogl ’26 and Naomi Meyer ’24. The event was widely attended by students who signed ballots for candidates Ryan Pizzarro, Mary Gay Scanlon, Mary Jo Daley, Malcolm Kenyatta and Amanda Cappelletti; The event was recognized by the Cappelletti and Pizzarro campaigns.

Some LM students are also working with local party groups to get involved in the electoral process more directly. Most notably an LM student had a direct hand in choosing who the Montgomery County Democratic Committee (MCDC) endorsed for key local and statewide races. Connor Kleinman ’24 attended the MCDC Convention on January 25 and served as a voting member of the committee, a little-known but highly influential group with a major impact on local elections.

While being a committee person likely does not sound like an important role, MCDC endorsements regularly align with the election results. “When voters turn up to the polls, many are handed a sample ballot, and large numbers of people tend to just vote with the sample ballot,” explains Kleinman. These sample ballots are determined by endorsements and are used widely enough that non-endorsed candidates often drop out of the race. This gives the convention’s endorsement enough power to sway an election.

Kleinman was a proxy at the convention, meaning he was not elected by residents of the township to be a committee person, but could still attend the convention and vote for endorsements. Committee people are elected party officials who vote on endorsements, formulate policies and campaigning strategies, and hold a lot of power despite their relatively unknown status.

Kleinman had heard of the opportunity through a pre-existing connection with another committee person, when an elected committee person was unable to attend. As Kleinman explains, “one of the people representing [his neighborhood] couldn’t go to the convention, so they needed a new person to be a proxy vote.” “I was extremely lucky to be able to attend,” continues Kleinman, because he was able to bring a new and younger perspective to the endorsement vote. While anyone over the age of 18 can be a committee person, Kleinman felt he was by far the youngest person at the convention. Young people, as well as people of color, tend to be underrepresented among committee people, and many committee people in Montgomery County consistently run unopposed.

Through Kleinman’s participation in the MCDC Convention and broader election engagement and outreach efforts, LM students seem prepared and eager to be involved in the upcoming 2024 primary and presidential elections. “Young people’s voices have long been underrepresented in the polls, and addressing this is critical for our political institutions,” says Barkan, who looks forward to continuing involvement going forward.

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