Neighborhood women frustrated by the state of American politics started Indivisible Oak Cliff, a Facebook group, in 2017, and it wasn’t about memes and shouting into the echo chamber.
Some of them became volunteer deputy registrars and started registering voters at events they organized. Then they decided to focus on high schools. Soon they realized that a Dallas-based nonprofit had already been doing that work since 2015.
So Valerie Walraven and others joined March to the Polls, helping to bring voter engagement to high school seniors all over the Dallas area. Walraven is retired and spends much of her time educating and registering voters in high schools and community colleges. They publish and pass out booklets in English and Spanish about voting, which is a big part of Walraven’s volunteer job. In normal times, she spent about three days a week inside schools.
She and her daughter also started txvoterzines.org as part of a class project when her daughter was a high-school senior in 2016, and it’s still updated every voting cycle.
Educating high-school seniors on voting
Kids are so honest, and they can break your heart. This one time, a guy stood up and said, “I have no power. I’m not a citizen.” It’s heartbreaking to see someone feeling so powerless. Us older white retired people learn a lot about people that we couldn’t have without that kind of contact.
How they engage students
We schedule visits to government or economics classes and do short presentations and have discussions about why to vote and how to vote. Then we register them and try to motivate them and get them to lead the discussion. Most students are very animated and interested in voting.
What they’re doing now
With COVID, we haven’t been able to go into the classrooms since before spring break. We go to community events and register whomever we can register. We’ve done some back-to-school events. Normally, we’re going to libraries and public places, but we’re not able to do that as much now.
How you can help
March to the Polls is always looking for volunteers. I did not start any of this. I just joined in, that’s all.