The Future Voters Club
In under a month, a motivated group of juniors from Centennial High School in Compton, California showed me just how quickly students can effect change in their communities.
I first met these students and their incredible teacher at a workshop The Civics Center led at USC in early March. The students were shocked, as I had been, to learn about the low voter registration and turnout rates among California voters. Yet, more importantly, they were inspired by the opportunity to make a difference.
At the end of the training, I asked about their reactions. Here’s what they said:
“They showed the statistics about people that don’t vote and that motivated me to get out there.”
“What I learned today was that there is space for everybody to get their voice heard.”
They got back to class on Monday and hit the ground running. They used our 4-week guide to create a game plan, formed a club called “The Future Voters,” and began learning the ins and outs of the California voter registration form. After several club meetings and with the help of an encouraging and enthusiastic teacher, they had a plan in place and were ready to go.
Less than a month later, they held their first voter registration drive during lunch. It was a whopping success. Nachos, “I registered to vote” stickers, music blasting, smiling faces, and students running around to make sure all the details were perfect — they had and did it all. Just like that, 70 Centennial High School students became registered or preregistered to vote within a 30-minute lunch period! In this way, the Future Voters Club was already thriving.
At times, today’s political environment can feel hopeless and polarized. But high school students have time and again shown us that our future is bright. Student leaders throughout the country are not sitting back. They’re taking a stand, and better yet, they’re incredibly effective. They know what motivates their peers, they know how to use social media to inspire, and they know that if they want to see change, they are going to have to take the lead.
Turns out, these Centennial students in Compton felt energized, as I did, by their success. Just last week, they held a second drive and registered another 50 students. They’re not stopping there. They have plans to expand their efforts to other schools in their area.
When we help students figure out how to put their ideas into action, the results speak for themselves. Their visions are grand, and their impact is real.
We’re in good hands.
Update May 6th, 2019:
Last week, The Future Voters Club held a third voter registration drive, this time training a group of volunteers to go into classrooms to teach their peers about the importance of voting and encourage them to register and preregister to vote. They registered nearly 200 more students, which brought their total to over 300 in just one month!