After hosting a Storytelling Day at my school with the Youth Activism Project’s help, my gears were still turning. Having the opportunity to make a difference in my school’s community was amazing, but I wanted to do more. I just didn’t know what that something was yet. That is, until the Youth Activism Project, once again informed me of a new opportunity that may interest the youth at my school: The chance to run a High School Voter Registration Drive.
I immediately did the research to see if there was any chance of making this happen at my school. The further I investigated, the more available this idea became. In fact, it was easier than I thought! This High School Voter Registration Drive initiate was organized in partnership with the Civics Center, another organization designed to empower the youth. I reached out to their team and asked the best way to make this happen, especially because 1) school didn’t start until September and 2) the national voter registration week was the third week of school. I continued to correspond with the Civics Center, reached out to a teacher at my school who was interested in being the advisor for the campaign, and we were off!
The Civics Center equipped our team with so many resources, including a guide for the best way to start the project, as well as providing Democracy in a Box to the first 50 high schools that registered their event. I registered my event in late July, being one of the first 50 schools! The supplies in the box were things designed to help us run a smoother event: clip boards, pens, candy, stickers, buttons, streamers, posters, and banners to help us advertise!
WITHIN THOSE TWO LUNCH PERIODS OF THE FIRST DAY, WE REGISTERED 44 STUDENTS TO VOTE!
The Civics Center also required that each volunteer helping with this event must participate in one of their webinar trainings. Although there were several scheduled trainings within the weeks of our drive date, none of those times fit with our school’s schedule. Lucky for us, Devin from the Civics Center was more than willing to help us out, and scheduled a webinar for just our team. Devin was always super resourceful, and willing to help us out with any questions we had.
As the week of the High School Voter Registration drive began, my team and I were hopeful in making a change, but with low expectations of a turn out. The first day we set up a booth in our lunch room, equipped with all the supplies, a tri-fold full of information, and several students helping classmates register. Within those two lunch periods of the first day, we registered 44 students to vote!
Without being partisan, we informed several hundred high schoolers of the importance of voting in today’s society. Several were shocked by the statistics that not many young adults show up to vote on election day. As one of the few states in the US that has the opportunity to participate in mail-in voting, we wanted to make sure that as many youth in our community had the opportunity to vote.
Throughout the week, the Youth Activism Project and the Civics Center checked in with my team and I to see how we were doing, what our outcomes were, and if they could do anything more to help us out. Both organizations were more than available to us, as were the materials we needed to make it a successful event.
In the end, our team registered 74 Lynnwood students to vote. But knowing all that I know now, I bet you can do even better! I encourage every teen reading this to host their own Voter Registration Drive at their school too!
By Mae Cramer, Lynnwood High, Washington State.