Roughly 646 students make up Naperville North’s senior class, and soon they could all be registered to vote.
“I’ve heard the operatives within campaigns say ‘students don’t vote.’ And they’re not wrong. And as such, ‘we’re not going to gear our platform towards them, nor are we going to take great efforts to actually get them out to vote.’ In researching that issue a little bit further I think I started to find that registration was a big barrier to a lot of students actually participating in an election.”
That led Van Dril to found the nonprofit RegiStart, which uses a computer program to train 18-year-olds in how to register to vote, talk to their peers about registration, and manage those conversations.
“So there’s a portion of it that determines which students have the best relationships with which members of the senior class, and pairs them together. We’re utilizing Snapchat, we’re utilizing Instagram, and of course phone calls, and text messages, and in person contact. But really whatever works and whatever suits the relationship best.”
Connecting with NNHS
Van Dril sought out his alma mater Naperville North for a pilot of the program, collaborating with two of Tim Johnson’s senior Urban History classes.
“It’s just so important to give yourself the option especially because, as we discussed today, our demographic – our age group really doesn’t vote a lot so it kind of makes it harder to get involved in politics to start off with,” said senior Haley Cush.
Students in both classes are contacting every senior about voter registration, with the aim to get 100% of them registered for next year’s general election.
“It makes me so excited,” said senior Max Marcionetti. “We can change the political outcome of these candidates and I think that’s really powerful to be an 18-year-old and be able to do that. I think that gives us motivation to go out to the polls and vote.”
Van Dril hopes after Naperville North that RegiStart will be deployed nationwide.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.
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