It’s officially 2016, which means the League’s 2016 Youth Voter Registration Project has officially kicked off! With millions of young voters eligible to participate in elections for the first time this year, the League’s efforts to register and engage young voters has never been more important. Now in its sixth year, the League’s national Youth Voter Registration Project has successfully registered tens of thousands of young people to vote. Through this work, we have identified important lessons for many of our partners and allies who are also working to empower young voters.
This year, League volunteers will be out in force in over 25 communities across 15 states as part of our Youth Voter Registration program, with the goal of holding voter registration events in more than 200 high schools and community/vocational schools. They’ll be setting up in classrooms, outside cafeterias, on community college quads and at a wide range of school events.
League volunteers will also equip students for a smooth Election Day experience by giving them the tools they need to understand the presidential election process and successfully cast a vote for the first time, including sharing helpful resources like the League’s nationwide election information website, www.VOTE411.org.
Here’s what makes our program unique:
League volunteers are working hand-in-hand with school officials and strategic partners like never before.
With our program now in its sixth year, the League is seeing the fruits of our volunteers’ hard work. Local Leagues’ relationships with school and community leaders have always been strong, and their continued collaborations are paying off in big ways.
In places like Milwaukee, WI, Arlington, VA and elsewhere, years of local investment in League-led high school voter registration programs have reached a critical mass and ushered in district-wide programs for this spring. With more and more League programs growing to encompass entire schools districts, League leaders hope to reach every eligible student possible.
In Dallas, League leaders will be working closely with LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) and school officials to reach and empower the approximately 70 percent of Dallas Independent School District students who identify as Hispanic.
In the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina, League leaders are looking beyond the typical school day, with registration events planned at a nontraditional evening high school as well as at a local YWCA.
And in Eastern Alabama, League leaders are forging a partnership with Auburn University’s Southern Poverty Law Center campus group to recruit and train college students to lead the registration charge in local high schools. This partnership builds upon SPLC’s interest in registering new and diverse young voters. In fact, SPLC recently published an article “The Young and the Registered” in their Teaching Tolerance magazine for educators.
Our youth empowerment efforts are providing critical support where young people need it most.
At a time when voters’ rights continue to be at risk throughout the country, League volunteers are thinking outside the box—and beyond the obstacles—to ensure every eligible voter has the opportunity to participate in 2016.
In Kansas, where voter registration restrictions have put thousands of eligible voters in legal limbo, League volunteers will be visiting local schools to facilitate registration, and also plan to continue their efforts to follow up to help young voters whose registration may be at risk.
In North Carolina, where League action for voters’ rights continues in full force and where recent voting restrictions threaten to affect young and first-time voters in 2016, League volunteers across the state will be visiting local schools to register voters and ensure all young people know their rights at the ballot box.
Are you interested in launching a youth registration program in your community? We hope you’ll reach out to a local League in your area and download our Empowering the Voters of Tomorrow High School Voter Registration Training Manual, which represents the best of what League volunteers have learned about hosting effective youth voter registration drives.