Skip to main content

Registering High School Students Nationwide at Youth Summit

On Tuesday, May 21, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and several local museums nationwide hosted the annual National Youth Summit, this year focusing on the forthcoming 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. The events and simulcast brought together thousands of middle and high school students to “examine the strategies used in the woman suffrage movement and explore how this history can inform our actions in the present and future.” At each of the local museum events, eligible students were greeted by local League of Women Voters volunteers eager to help them register to vote.  

Here in Washington, DC, I had the opportunity to stop by the National Museum of American History to see the students gearing up for their summit. On my way through the lobby, I passed a group of students talking with a museum guide dressed as a suffragist; they were engaged in a lively conversation about the impact of congressional elections on voters’ lives. 

National Youth Summit 2018

Here in Washington, DC, I had the opportunity to stop by the National Museum of American History to see the students gearing up for their summit. On my way through the lobby, I passed a group of students talking with a museum guide dressed as a suffragist; they were engaged in a lively conversation about the impact of congressional elections on voters’ lives. 

Turning into the Great Flag Hall, home of the Star Spangled Banner, I saw a large League of Women voters table. Two volunteers from our Montgomery County, Maryland League greeted me with enthusiasm; they were happy to report that they’d been fielding questions from interested students and had helped several register to vote.

We were excited knowing this scene was playing out in several other museums across the country as we spoke.  

The Youth Summit was a special opportunity and is just one of many efforts underway to empower young voters before next year’s elections. Between now and the end of the school year, hundreds of League volunteers will visit classrooms, graduations, field days and other school events to ensure graduating seniors are registered to vote. Here on the national stage, I’m honored to be working with 59 of those local League affiliates through LWVEF’s Youth Voter Registration Project, which in 2019 has committed an unprecedented amount of support for school registration programs to reach an equally unprecedented 660+ schools this spring. Looking ahead to the fall, we hope that 400 League teams will be committing to host registration events on National Voter Registration Day – a key annual opportunity to encourage registration, especially among young people and first-time voters. 

National Youth Summit 2018

Our mission to help empower young voters has never been clearer, and we have much to be excited about. According to our partners at CIRCLE, despite a high level of uncertainty among young people about the state of our democracy, youth turnout increased dramatically from the 2014 to the 2018 midterm cycles, with some states registering turnout increases of more than 20 percentage points. Now is the time to build on these historic gains and ensure every eligible young person has the opportunity to register and vote in 2020.

Even as we celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage, I’m drawing my inspiration from on the young voters who will shape our country’s future.