November 7, 2016
Andrew Hicks looked out at a classroom full of students at St. Thomas the Apostle School in Elkhart. His goal? To encourage each student to one day be an informed voter.
Hicks, an attorney with the Elkhart law firm, Warrick & Boyn, LLP, is not alone. Lawyers with Warrick & Boyn are joining hundreds of legal professionals and law students across the state to teach Hoosier students about elections and voting.
Lawyers as K-12 educators is all part of the Indiana Kids’ Election (IKE) program, which is sponsored by the Indiana State Bar Association, the Indiana Secretary of State and the Indiana Department of Education. Through IKE, judges, lawyers, law students and paralegals volunteer at local schools to give presentations about the election process.
IKE is a participatory process for Indiana pupils. On or before Oct. 11, they “register” to vote in a mock election. On Tuesday, Nov. 8, the students will cast their ballots.
The program also fulfills a requirement of state law. Indiana educators are mandated to provide instruction about the election process two weeks before a General Election for all students in sixth through 12th grades. IKE goes above and beyond that requirement by offering instruction to children as young as 5.
During his presentation, Hicks told the St. Thomas students that there is a problem in this country.
“Too many people don’t vote,” he said. “Only 28 to 60 percent of people vote in any given election year.”
Hicks explained that the decisions made and policies enacted by elected officials can affect ordinary people. With input from the class, he listed all the races local Hoosiers can vote in during the 2016 election, everything from the President of the United States to the Indiana governor to the Elkhart school board. In addition, Hicks outlined the responsibilities of the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government.
Hicks also stressed the importance of knowing what the key issues are in an election, and learning about where the candidates stand on those issues. Hint: Talking to a candidate or watching a candidates’ debate is better than watching an attack ad.
“I think it’s important that kids see that elections aren’t a reality TV show,” Hicks said after class. “There are important issues they have to deal with and vote on. Elections aren’t about who’s insulting whom or who’s making the biggest splash in the media, but what the issues actually are.”
At the end of his presentation, Hicks offered advice and encouragement to the students.
“The only way you can make this country the way you want it to be is to research the issues and vote – and maybe even be a candidate yourself,” he said.
Warrick & Boyn, LLP, is a full-service law firm in Elkhart, Ind., that practices in all areas of business and corporate law. Areas of practice include commercial litigation, creditors’ rights and bankruptcy law, labor and employment law, defense litigation, securities law and regulation, worker’s compensation defense, education and school law, EEOC law, employee benefits law and pension plans, environmental law and regulation, tax and estate planning, municipal law, and property and real estate law. The firm’s clients are located primarily in northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan, and most of the attorneys are licensed to practice in both Indiana and Michigan.