As we look ahead to the 2016 presidential election cycle, the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) will be more focused than ever on conducting high school voter registration drives. To expand this work, we’re pleased to share a new and improved training manual for those registering new voters. Empowering the Voters of Tomorrow: Developing Winning High School Voter Registration Programs, lays out a roadmap for organizations, educators and students interested in empowering young Americans to register and vote. 

The need for voter registration programs in high schools cannot be understated. Although 2012’s youth voter turnout was on par with that of 2008, young voters still remain severely underrepresented in the American electorate. These shortcomings grow exponentially when we look at non-college youth and young people from minority and low-income communities. What’s more, research by CIRCLE (the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) shows that although young people are increasingly engaging in volunteerism, discussing important political issues and expressing strong desires to change their communities for the better, most have never been contacted by a civic organization or been asked to get involved in the political process.

Since 2010, the League has worked in dozens of targeted local communities to make sure all young people have the chance to ask questions, talk about why voting is important and get registered. The hard work of League volunteers in more than twenty states has resulted in tens of thousands of students registered to vote for the first time! We’re proud to have helped the next generation of voters learn the ropes, and we are excited to build this program for the future.

The updated training manual, which has field-tested tactics that were honed by dozens of League volunteer teams, shares the lessons learned from their work hosting hundreds of nonpartisan high school voter registration drives nationwide last year. The manual provides a comprehensive plan for planning, executing and making the most of high school voter registration events, including details ranging from facts on voter eligibility to event planning basics such as identifying the best time to hold a drive and how best to encourage young voters. The manual is also chock-full of customizable, printable tools and workplans, including several brand new elements.

What is your organization doing to engage young people? We hope this training manual can help! Download it, then let us know what you’d like to see included in future editions.

League members register high school students to vote