Thanks in large part to youth organizers and activists like Juniors Nikka M., Hannah T., and Eitan P., young people turned out to vote in record numbers during the 2020 Election.
Students attended the November Speaker Series, co-hosted by the Belldegrun Center for Innovative Leadership and the Office of Equity and Inclusion to hear Noel Heard '02 and Eboni K. Williams discuss “The Power of Your Voice” and they were inspired to spring directly into action. Shortly thereafter, they formed “The Ballot Project,” a youth-led organization that seeks to raise awareness for issues surrounding voter turnout in America. As a nonpartisan group, they believe that everyone has a chance and opportunity to have their voice heard and they seek to get as many people to engage in our democracy as possible. Though they are not of voting age themselves, they launched a poster and social media campaign to meet voters where they are and link them directly with voter registration and planning websites via QR codes and hashtags. Recognizing that there are many students like them who are too young to vote but eager to get involved, they recruited student volunteers to help design and distribute their QR code posters to businesses in neighborhoods across the city.
While their project caught some local media attention in the run up to this election, they would be the first to tell you that their work is not finished now that 2020’s votes have been cast. According to Hannah, in the future they are interested in “Partnering with other schools organizations [and] meeting with the city to see how we can help get things done and Increase involvement in future elections.” Nikka adds that with chapters at different schools, “Pre-registering people to vote is an achievable goal” and can get students ready to participate in the future. Using a data-driven approach toward voter outreach, they pledge to continue connecting people with state and local elections. The BCIL is offering Hannah, Nikka, and Eitan continued support and working to help build a stronger presence, brainstorm strategies, and hone the project’s messaging. Any students interested in addressing real world challenges within and beyond their classrooms are invited to connect with the BCIL for support. Check out theballotproject.com to stay up to date on the project.