High school students now receive two hours off to vote in Illinois elections

Effective June 1 this summer, Illinois high school students who are eligible to vote can take an excused absence from school to perform their civic duty.

The new law, signed by Governor JB Pritzker on Wednesday, allows students who are 18 years of age or older to leave school for up to two hours on the day of the election or 15 days prior to cast their ballot in a primary, general, special, or any election in Illinois at which propositions are submitted to a popular vote in the state.

Now, high school students who want to participate in the voting process no longer have to mail-in votes, request permission to leave close campuses, attempt to rush to their polling during a short lunch period or after school or miss a team practice if they are an athlete.

Given the effective date, students will not be able to take part in the upcoming primaries on March 17. However, they will be able to take full advantage of the new measure in November's general election.

"With this new law, our voting-eligible young people will have the freedom to fit voting into their school day without fear of repercussion for engaging in the very civic education we should all be proud to encourage," said Governor Pritzker in an statement after signing in the new law. "The young people who advocated for this legislation recognized how important it is not only to vote, but to make the act of voting as accessible for all who can vote as possible."

The legislation gives school administrators the option to enforce specific hours when voters may leave school grounds.

The measure passed 74-40 in the House and 40-10 in the Senate.

Taylor Wells leads Spartans past Sabers

After trailing by three points at the half, the St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team rallied back to notch another conference win at home. In a noteworthy second half defensive effort, the Spartans held St. Thomas More to just six points in the final two quarters of their Illini Prairie Conference shindig to win, 42-25.

Taylor Wells, who went 2-for-2 from the free throw line, led the SJO charge with 12 points. The sophomore starter was the only player to reach double digits and the only player to score more than four points in the last half of the contest on January 6.

Ashlyn Lannert came off the bench to finish the night with eight points. Payton Jacob rounded out the top three scorers for the Spartans contributing six points.

Meanwhile, freshman Kennedy Ramshaw led visiting St. Thomas More with six points. Teammates Tatum DeVriese and Sarah Gibas scored five points apiece in the Sabers' loss.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 7 9 19 17 - 42
St. Thomas More 4 15 2 4 - 25

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 8, Payton Jacob 6, Taylor Wells 12, Atleigh Hamilton 2, Katie Cramer 3, Abby Behrens 2, Taylor Barnes 4 and Ella Armstrong 5.

St. Thomas More: Sarah Gibas 5, Maddie Swisher 2, Bridget Delorenzo 2, Ava Dickerson 4, Tatum DeVriese 5, Alaina Bowie 1 and Kennedy Ramshaw 6.

Izard scores 21 in Williamsville game

Chance Izard led St. Joseph-Ogden to victory with a 21-point performance in his team 50-22 win over Williamsville on January 7. Izard also snagged a game-high six steals for the Spartans in the non-conference matchup.

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Payton Grimsley slides across the floor
Payton Grimsley slides across the floor after trying to scoop up a loose ball in SJO's home game against Williamsville. The senior was scoreless in the game but spearheaded a great defensive effort by the Spartans who held the Bullets to just ten points in the first half. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Ty Pence added another 15 points and five steals to the SJO effort. The Spartans' solo freshman player on the varsity squad this season was a threat both in the paint and from outside the arc.

When the game resumed after halftime, the two teams returned to the floor with SJO nursing a 12-point cushion on the scoreboard. Pence went on to tally an 11-point third quarter that helped pile on a huge 43-14 advantage over the Bullets.

Williamsville's Sam McCoy, also a freshman, led the Bullets in the scorebook with 10 points.

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Conner Hodge and Payton Cain fight for the ball
St. Joseph-Ogden seniors Conner Hodge and Payton Cain fight to keep the ball away from Williamsville's Brendon Bishop during first half action. Cain and Hodge combined for just six points in the SJO victory on January 7. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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Jordan Kelly
Senior Jordan Kelly brings the ball down the floor in the second half of the second home basketball game of the new year for the Spartans. So far in 2020, SJO has outscored opponents, 118-73. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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Head coach Kiel Duval keeps an analytical eye on his team late in the fourth quarter as his Spartans pick up their second win of the year and advance to a 10-4 record for the season. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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St. Joseph-Ogden's Conner Hodge
Despite Williamsville's 6-2 freshman Sam McCoy's attempt to block, Conner Hodge puts the ball back up strong after snagging a rebound during first quarter action. McCoy led the Bullets' scoring effort against the Spartans with ten points. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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SJO wins
With the bench players on the floor and the game well in hand, SJO seniors (left to right) Jordan Kelly, Payton Cain, Chance Izard, Payton Grimsley and Braydon Rupert flash winning smiles. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 8 14 21 7 - 50
Williamsville 6 4 4 8 - 22

St. Joseph-Ogden: Beyers 2, Cain 4, Coursey 1, Hodge 2, Hutcherson 3, Izard 21, Kelly 2 and Pence 15.

Williamsville: Hyson 4, McCoy 10, Riley 4, Smith 2 and Walbert 2.

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