Registering to vote senior class was a Wild Ride

Jahnavi Rao, a senior at Conestoga High School in Pennsylvania, describes how she and her fellow Inspired Leaders worked hard to reach their goal of registering to vote 85% of their senior class. 

Some really, really exciting news -- we passed 85% of the eligible seniors registered! It was definitely a wild ride but I'd really like to share our story with you!

On Wednesday, October 4, a large group of student volunteers, in Inspire U.S. t-shirts, went to all the homerooms with seniors.  We got basically 100% of the Pledge to Vote cards filled out, and we also handed out voter registration forms to eligible students. We went back the next day and got back 48 filled out forms, and by Friday, we had 61 forms back. We still needed 55 more to hit the 85% mark, but luckily we were prepared!

That weekend, I asked the volunteers if they'd be comfortable contacting a the eligible senior to get them to register to vote. On Sunday morning, each volunteer began the effort to get 2-4 students registered, and by that night, we had 74 registered (54%)!

Monday and Tuesday were wild rides, with the volunteers spending hours reaching out through any way possible to get more people to register. It's actually so incredible how much people contributed, and I am genuinely still blown away by their diligence to register students. For example, volunteers waited outside sporting events to catch students, cold-called houses from the phone-book, walked into random homerooms looking for unregistered students, and texted everyone and their cousin to reach out to the people who weren't registered, using third/fourth/fifth parties to get to whoever they could. By Monday night, we had 102 students registered (75%) and were only 14 short. By the end of Tuesday, October 10, with more text messages sent out than I've possibly sent in my entire life, we hit 85% and passed it, registering 118 students to vote!

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I thank Chelsea and Hannah from Inspire U.S. for their support, encouragement and guidance. The response by students across the school was far beyond anything I could have hoped, and the enthusiasm of students volunteers and other students was incredible. It was truly a non-partisan effort, with Democrats and Republicans coming together to register everyone they could, even kids I didn't know asked if they could help in any way. 

Before I began the drive, I didn't realized how difficult it would be to register to vote 85% of the seniors. There is hardly any margin of error, and you need every student to participate regardless of your connection to them. There were students I had never talked to, some I had never heard of, and some I never wanted to talk to, and every single one of them had to register. Without the active and persistent reach-out, I truly believe we would have only registered less than 50% of the eligible seniors. This really taught me the value of dedication and endurance. People my age really don't want to be idle, and truly wish to be involved further. In my wildest dreams I hope that this event struck a chord with those involved by giving them the opportunity to make a difference.

Thank you Inspire U.S. for guiding me; I would not have been able to do any of this without you.