Registering voters is so hip right now. Like me, you may have seen people standing outside your local public transportation entrances registering citizens to vote. Some of those democracy lovers may not have been old enough to vote yet, but they were helping to register those who were 18 or older. In partnership with the organization HeadCount, Ariana Grande’s U.S. tour registered double the voters of any other tour HeadCount accompanied over the past three years. Ariana even offered something for her younger fans: by signing a pledge to register when they’re old enough, they would receive an email reminder to do just that on their eighteenth birthday.
But the Independent Sector staff didn’t want to leave all the fun to mega pop stars. We celebrated National Voter Registration Day 2019 on September 24 in style. Doughnuts, stickers, music, and candy adorned our conference room, where Independent Sector staff was ready to register new voters. Not only that, but our team was joined by already registered voters who checked on their addresses to reaffirm their commitment to the importance of voting. In fact, NVRD’s sponsor, Nonprofit VOTE, reported this year’s registration event shattered “off-year” records, with an estimated 400,000 new registered voters across the country.
Independent Sector is proud to be among a coalition of 4,082 community partners that — on the fourth Tuesday of September each year — engages upwards of 10,000 local volunteers and educates millions of individuals about how to register and re-register to vote. Our efforts were record-breaking. According to the NVRD website, about 400,000 people registered for the first time or updated their voter registration on September 24. “This unprecedented number is more than THREE TIMES the previous record set for an ‘off-year’ focused primarily on local elections, and far outpaced expectations,” according to NVRD.
Our reasons for registering to vote, maintaining correct information on our voting records, and voting on election days were as varied as our staff. Personal reasons included: it’s my civic duty, every voice matters, it just takes one to make a difference, it’s my job as a U.S. citizen to make my voice heard, and democracy only works if we participate. One member of our staff poignantly asked, “What’s the point of freedom if you don’t put it to good use?”
As HeadCount Executive Director and Co-Founder Andy Berenstein said in an NVRD press release following this year’s event, “As much hard work as we have put into this and every holiday, it’s important for citizens to realize there is still time for them to get registered ahead of state and local elections in 2019.” Several states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland and the District of Columbia allow voters to register on Election Day, but double check with your state for any recent changes.
Though we might not all be members of Generation Z, we can all follow the lead of #thankunextgen a la Ariana Grande and up our political engagement: next year’s NVRD is September 22, 2020 with a goal to register over one million new voters, so get those clipboards ready!