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Youth Council Member Spotlight: Vivian

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Gail Johnson

 

This week the High School Engagement Team would like to introduce a member spotlight. For each edition we will profile individual members, highlighting their incredible GOTV efforts, what they are up to, as well as any advice that they would like to give to their peers regarding voting and the election!

We begin with Vivian, a Senior at Marshwood High School in York County. Outside of youth voter activism, Vivian spends time working on other political and environmental activism in general, also spending time as a dedicated member of Marshwood’s NHS, Civil Rights team, Tri-M, and Interact club.

Do you remember when you first realized that politics were important?
I was in 8th grade during the 2016 election. The course and outcome of the election sparked me to engage in more activism efforts. How our now president conducted himself made me question our political process and voter pool. The mass misinformation combined with the inappropriate and harmful rhetoric digested and redispersed by my fellow Americans at the time, and still today, considerably concerns me. I wanted to correct such a self-destructive cycle and become part of the efforts to engage and educate voters.

How did you first get involved in politics and/or GOTV efforts?
All through middle school and into high school, I have involved myself in student council and various leadership positions. My mother, a social studies teacher, and I would frequently discuss politics and current events. There has always been a part of me interested in politics, being surrounded by them, and involved in them. A lot of the work I do in clubs involves local organizations and town offices. For example, the Rotary Club which works with my school-based club Interact.

To you, what is the most important part of GOTV?
I think it is important to encourage voting in a nonpartisan manner. Especially when such a large number of voters are underutilized for various reasons, and in being part of getting out the vote, I hope to narrow the gap in those disparities. I have studied the impactful difference between those who vote compared to those registered to vote. Additionally, informing future voters that the youth vote has the potential to significantly impact the outcome of elections is crucial to future voting success. I want to spread that message so others can see the change they are capable of through voting, and that their opinions and vote matter. That they are not only needed, but wanted. So, they should not let others solely handle decision making through voting that also affects them. They should have a say in the elections that impact the communities they will be spending the majority of their lives in.

Why do you think that youth involvement is important, especially in GOTV and voting itself?
The earlier young people get involved in voting and civic engagement, the more likely it is they will be lifelong voters. I am also very excited at the prospect that organizations similar, and including yours, are enabling the youth voice. By involving youth in GOTV, it enables us to spread this message amongst our peers and helps us gather and disseminate such information to our generation in ways only we can. By using peer outreach as a bridge to civic awareness it will create a more informed and excited group of upcoming voters.

Please tell us about some GOTV activities or engagements that you have participated in.
In addition to being on the steering committee of the Youth Council, I am also on the Speakers Bureau, steering committee of Youthwork Makes the Boothwork, have worked on the Friend to Friend project, and have participated in the Youth Votes! initiative at my school. I am currently in the process of setting up my poll working schedule for the upcoming election, and was just trained in the Adopt a Town Clerk program for the League of Women Voters election protection work. 

What was your most inspiring and/or exciting GOTV engagement or accomplishment?
This summer when I did the Friend to Friend project with the league, the traction that I got with my peers and older graduates of my high school was encouraging. One of the people I contacted said she would have forgotten to vote if it weren't for my reminders and resources I provided (vote411.org and how to request an absentee ballot).

What is one piece of advice that you would give to others your age when they are feeling hopeless and doubtful about the current state of US politics and voting?
Be the change you want to see in the world. Don't lose faith in your fellow Americans. There are many people doing work you can't see, work that you could be a part of if you look into it. If you are struggling with fear, hopelessness, or loss of faith in regards to our electoral process or upcoming election, I suggest getting involved. It brings a whole new perspective to the issue and gives you purpose and the knowledge that you are striking change.