First Time Voters at City High

City High students share their experiences and opinions on voting


Rebecca Michaeli

Frances Bottorff ’22 poses with her “I Voted” sticker after voting for the first time.

Rebecca Michaeli and Diego Loria-Eivins

According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, 19.3% of Iowa City voters participated in the 2021 School Board election. City High students share their experiences and opinions on voting.

Jocelyn Ankenmann ‘22 was one of the City High students who were eligible to vote for the first time this November.

“Up until the day before, I had no idea [who I was going to vote for]. I didn’t even know what topics I would be voting on. I had heard about the tax [levy extension], but that was the only thing. I didn’t know who was running for school board. So the day before I looked up what I would be voting on and I did a little bit of research,” Ankenmann said.

The Iowa City Community School District took November 2, 2021 off of the 2020-2021 school calendar due to the city-wide elections.

“I would say [voting] was kind of anticlimactic honestly. I was very excited and proud of myself for doing it, but it took five minutes maybe. I just filled out a few bubbles, and that was that,” Ankenmann said.

In a local election, Ankenmann feels voting is critical because the subjects being voted on have a direct impact on the Iowa City community. 

“It’s nice to know that even if it’s small, I do have somewhat of a voice and an impact. And it makes me happy that I can have some influence on things that are happening. Even more so, because this was a local election, I felt like my vote would matter even more in this scenario,” Ankenmann said.

Matisse Arnone ‘23, president of the Young Democrats club at City High, organized a non-partisan voter registration drive at the City High versus West High homecoming football game. Arnone contacted people from the Johnson County Democratic Party, looking for guidance in regards to the voter registration drive.

“The Johnson County Democratic Party has someone on their board who also works for the auditor’s office and had access to registration papers, clipboards, and pens, and all that we needed. We sat at the table at the homecoming football game versus West High with adult volunteers and also student volunteers,” Arnone explained. “We got close to 20 people [registered to vote]. I felt like that was a success.”

The goal of the Young Democrats club is to bring politically active students together to talk about all things politics. Local elections, policy issues, and candidate platforms are some of the topics discussed at the weekly club meetings. The club encourages all students to become educated and involved in politics, regardless of party affiliation.

“The reason that we did the registration drive non-partisan is because the City High administration wanted that. I feel like it was good because depending on the person, it could turn them away if they see that a political party was behind the registration. Even if there are political party members behind [the registration], as long as they encourage more people to register and get involved,” Arnone said.

Although Arnone is not yet eligible to vote, he believes it’s important to make a difference in whatever way possible and to vote when eligible.

“I’m very excited to vote in two years when I can. Even though it [won’t be] a presidential or midterm election, it will still be cool to vote for the first time,” Arnone said.

Helena Brown-Rodriguez ‘22 also voted for the first time in the 2021 School Board Election. 

“It was nice to be able to vote and to feel like you’re making some sort of a difference, even if it’s for a small election,” Brown-Rodriguez said.

Brown-Rodriguez’s family votes in all elections, and she has been inspired to follow their lead and to participate in democracy whenever possible.

“A lot of people vote without fully educating themselves on the different [candidates]. They just vote based on what other family members think or what their parents believe,” Brown-Rodriguez said.

Brown-Rodriguez encourages voters of all ages to do their own research and research a topic from both sides of the political spectrum before forming an opinion. Brown-Rodriguez recommends visiting neutral, unbiased websites to form an opinion on controversial topics.

“It’s cliché, but everyone’s voice does matter. There are so many people who think ‘oh, I’m just one vote, I’m just one person.’ But when you add all those people up, [voting] is a really, really important thing,” Ankenmann said.

To register to vote in the state of Iowa, one must be a United States citizen, Iowa resident, and at least 18 years of age. You can register to vote online at