Dozens of young adults from several Transition Centers throughout Lake County tried out voting machines for the first time on Wednesday, thanks to the Lake County Clerk’s Office and the District 120 Transition Center.
Approximately 74 transition participants (of programs that help them transition from high school to adulthood) registered to vote, filled out ballots and placed “I Voted” stickers on their coats. For many of these participants, who live with a wide range of abilities, the program was an important step to help them exercise their right to vote in the March primary and beyond.
“Today we gave a voice to 74 young adults and valued them as members of our community,” said D120 Transition Center Coordinator Michelle Bank.
Lake County Clerk Anthony Vega attended along with Mundelein resident Sol Cabachuela, Chief Deputy of Civic Engagement for the Lake County Clerk.
“We wanted participants to learn how to vote,” Vega said. “This is really a hands-on opportunity.”
The mock voting stations included ADA-compliant express voting machines complete with headphones and Braille touch pads. It was set up exactly how it would be on election day.
Wednesday’s program not only helped give transition participants the opportunity to practice voting, but allowed the Clerk’s Office to test out how voting would work at the MHS Annex. Vega said his office will add the location to its official list of about a dozen early voting sites in Lake County this spring.
“Everyone - participants, staff and election workers alike, walked away feeling bigger and bolder than when they walked in,” said Laura Mellon, Youth Advocate for the Lake County Center for Independent Living and a School District 120 Board of Education Member. “There is no price tag you can put on that.”