High School students around the country are back to school and youth voter access project The Civics Center is commemorating the occasion with their first-ever High School Voter Registration Week (HSVRW). The campaign, set for September 23-27, relies on students themselves to host voter registration drives at their schools to inform, encourage and support their fellow classmates of their right and ability to pre-register to vote. The Civics Center has enlisted 25 fellow voter access organizations committed to this effort to form a HSVRW coalition. Members of the coalition include March for Our Lives, the YMCA, and Issue Voter, a fellow project of Community Partners.
Executive Director Laura Brill recognized the need to educate schools and students of the relatively new (2014) pre-registration law when she stumbled upon it herself after the 2016 presidential elections. Now, The Civics Center has just celebrated its one-year anniversary and trained over 100 students and their teachers to host registration drives, leading to an abundance of events scheduled in 20 different states (and counting!).
So how do you recruit and impassion young people who are notoriously bad at showing up to the polls? “Young people are not as self-centered as you think they are! They have a voice and they want their voices to be heard,” shared Brill. “We help them feel a part of something larger than themselves.”
The Civics Center was savvy in their initial outreach strategy, embracing social media with a focus on Instagram, used by 85% of America’s teenagers. In fact, most of the students around the country who found The Civics Center did so on Instagram. Through their profile, students enlisted in online trainings and received toolkits and voter drive swag to host their events or even start a voter engagement club at their school. Brill has been thrilled with the response, noting that teachers as well as students are enthusiastic about High School Voter Registration Week.
“We recently did a training in Orange County and there was a teacher in Compton who found out about us on Instagram,” Brill said. “She invited her class and picked up five of her students and drove them to Orange County on a Saturday.”
The scope that The Civics Center has managed to reach in just a year is a testament to a growing political and civic awareness among the nation’s young people. Brill insists if not for fiscal sponsorship, her work would have had a much slower start. “Joining Community Partners has been incredible. We were able to launch in time for the midterm elections with our programs and infrastructure in place. It’s been an ideal structure for us.”
Have a high school student at home or know a colleague who does? Be sure to share details about High School Voter Registration Week and follow @TheCivicsCenter on Instagram for upcoming trainings in your region.