Senator Elgie Sims adds: “I am so proud of these students”
by Melanie Jongsma
CALUMET CITY, Ill. (January 22, 2020) – “Thank you for hosting us here,” said Governor JB Pritzker as he took the podium following an introduction by TF North Principal Brian Rucinski. “And for whatever magic you’ve got in the classrooms at Thornton Fractional that inspired these students to take their ideas to Springfield—I just wanna say, ‘Wow’ and ‘You won!’ You got it done. Well done.”
Governor Pritzker chose TF North (755 Pulaski Road) as the location for the signing of Senate Bill 1970 at the urging of Illinois Senator Elgie Sims. Sims participated in a Parade to the Polls at TF North and TF South High Schools in November of 2018 and helped students overcome obstacles typical for first-time voters. He connected with students during that experience, and was inspired to sponsor legislation that would authorize student absences during the school day for voting. Sims invited several students to testify in Springfield in support of the bill, which passed in the Senate and the House in nine months. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything move quite as fast as the legislation that you all put together!” commented Pritzker to the gathering of students.
A press release from Senator Sims explains, “Senate Bill 1970 amends the Election Code to allow students who are 18 or older to leave school for up to two hours to vote in a primary, general, or any other election in the state that requires a popular vote. The school can decide which hours students can be absent to vote. The plan is modeled after current rules for employers and employees.”
Before signing the legislation, Pritzker had this encouragement for the young people in the room:
Though students from both TF South and TF North were the inspiration for the bill and were involved in its passage, TF North actively campaigned to host Governor Pritzker’s signing of the bill. So Sims told the crowd, “There was no place else we were going to sign this bill than at TF North.”
Short speeches from other people involved in the process highlighted the importance of engagement and involvement.
In a Facebook post about the bill, Revis wrote, “It is my hope that schools will, like TF North, organize voting field trips where they can support their students as they navigate the process. At the end of the day, our students participated in the legislative process, they tweeted, retweeted and hashtagged. They traveled and they testified. And on Wednesday, they [saw] that Civic engagement matters!”