Mackenzie Massey is a 4th year Government student at the University of Texas at Austin. She has been involved with the Texas Freedom Network Student Leadership Council and Advocates for Youth for four years.
This election season young people made a difference (again!) and surprised all the cynical people in older generations by not only voting, but also by organizing to get others to vote.
At my university, the University of Texas at Austin, I led one of many groups who successfully gathered volunteers, received county training to become Volunteer Deputy Registrars, organized and executed voter registration drives and phone banks, educated voters, sent voter reminders by e-mail and text message, and ultimately helped turn out young voters to the polls. It was a hard semester, many of our volunteers work and are full time students, but this work had to be done – young people had to vote! In the end, we registered 1,443 voters in our county and made over 2,000 calls to registered voters!
So, how did we do it?
1. Gather your team! This is our student chapter group at the start of our election work. We got together and started planning who could do what, what our strengths were, and what the deadlines were within the election (last day to register, early voting dates, election day).
2. Get deputized! In Travis County you must be deputized by the county tax assessor’s office in order to register others to vote. In a stroke of pure genius, we brought the Travis County Tax Assessor to our campus for a big group deputization event, here are our volunteers being sworn in!
3. Register ALL THE VOTERS! This part is pretty straight forward, and very labor intensive. We organized 5 day-long voter registration drives on the retail strip across from campus where we registered about 200 people a day. We also registered people in line at concerts, members of student organizations during their meetings, students in our classes, anyone we could talk to at tons of community events, and all of our friends, roommates, brothers, sisters, boyfriends, girlfriends, and even our frenemies. Of course we had to do this before the October 9th deadline, the last day to register voters!
4. Call, Text, E-mail, Facebook Attack ALL THE VOTERS! The last day to register to vote was October 9th, but early voting didn’t start until October 22nd, so we wanted to make sure our people didn’t forget to hit the polls! We promoted our voting guide and voter education events by calling voters in organized phonebanks, texting registered voters, sending regular e-mails, and continuously posting on Facebook about why this election matters. We held a few phonebanks in the office of the non-profit we work with and organized a watch party for the first presidential debate that attracted almost 150 students!
5. Celebrate! After all of our hard work, we needed a break, and we needed some cake. So we had a movie night with free cake and potluck-style dinner so that all of our volunteers could celebrate with us.