Thousands of new voters signed up during the March for Our Lives
#NeverAgain activists have made it clear that this weekend’s March For Our Lives was just the beginning of their movement, and one of their clearest goals is to change gun control laws through voting.
According to HeadCount, a nonpartisan organization that promotes participation in democracy, thousands of people may have already heeded that call. HeadCount says their volunteers registered more than 4,800 new voters at 30 March for Our Lives events nationwide on Saturday. And that number may end up being even higher.
“Those numbers are solely ink on paper,” HeadCount spokesman Aaron Ghitelman told CNN. “That’s not even counting people who may have gone online to register.”
HeadCount, which began registering voters in 2004, sends volunteers to about a thousand concerts and music festivals every year. Ghitelman says the father of Marjory Stoneman Douglas activist Cameron Kasky first connected with the organization.
After fellow MSD activist Emma Gonzalez made a public plea for young people to speak with their vote, HeadCount knew they needed to have a presence at the march.
“Young people vote when they think that issues that matter to them are on the ballot,” Ghitelman said. “Registering to vote is the first step.”
The organization claims to have registered about 500,000 US voters since 2004. It has also released a guide to help schools, groups, events and organizations hold their own nonpartisan voter-registration drives.
According to the Brookings Institute, only 50% of eligible youth voters turned out for the 2016 presidential election. That was a slight increase from the 49% who voted in the 2012 election, but a decrease from the 2008 election, in which 52% voted.
“The way that you get people voting isn’t just by asking them to vote, it’s by illustrating the importance of their vote. We’re very excited to see students kind of carry this movement and empower other students,” Ghitelman said.
“We just want to show young people that democracy is not a spectator sport.”