Introducing High School Voter Registration Week

More than 3.5 million students will graduate from high school this year. Here’s what we know about them.

Most of them are eligible to register or preregister to vote, but the overwhelming majority of them are not registered. Most of them go to schools that have no training and no planning to get them registered. If they are like prior classes, only about 6-7% of them will even be asked to register in school. If they are like millennials, only about 32% of them believe it is essential to live in a democracy.

Too often in the past, people have dismissed concerns about low levels of youth involvement as being based on the stereotype that young people are apathetic and self-centered.

That’s not what we see at The Civics Center.  

What we see is a hunger among young people for meaningful and positive ways to get involved. What we see is a need for an educational, social, and cultural infrastructure that is in dialogue with young people about why their participation matters and what they can do about it.  

That’s where High School Voter Registration Week comes in.  

Part of the work is technological. We have developed a collection of social media and other assets that can be used to increase awareness and to provide information about how voter registration works. This kind of outreach is important because social media and other tech platforms help us meet young people where they are. Above all, this work is social and personal.  

Young people already have the capacity for leadership and an appetite for social connection.  We can help them appreciate the opportunities they already have to work together to make their voices heard. 

Our focus has been peer-to-peer voter registration, and we have seen incredible results. In one high school in Orange County, California, we saw students register or preregister more than 650 of their peers over the course of a few days. When their rival school got wind of it, students there set out to do better. They registered more than 750 students. 

We have seen similar results in an array of different schools.  We trained a group from Centennial High School in Compton, California.  They registered more than 300 of their classmates. They started a Future Voters Club to hold more events, and they are creating a challenge for other schools in their district.  We also helped motivated students in Utah, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey all hold successful peer-to-peer voter registration drives. 

State laws about voter registration differ, but in half of U.S. states, virtually every high school senior can register or preregister to vote today.  Even in other states with more restrictive laws, the opportunities for high school voter registration are enormous.  

Late September is already the time that many nonprofits work on promoting voter registration through National Voter Registration Day.  NVRD has joined with more than a dozen coalition members to support High School Voter Registration Week, as well. Now high school students can have a focused time to plan, organize, and get registered.  

They say, what you pay attention to grows.  To high school students who care about the world around them and who want to participate, we adults can say, a lot of this work is up to you, but we are here, and we are paying attention. 

Support High School Voter Registration Week by spreading the word and making a contribution.