On Saturday as marches took place all over the country protesting gun violence, several groups were doing something they hoped would be more effective in changing the gun laws than just marching: they were registering voters. One group, called HeadCount, partnered with the Parkland students who organized March for Our Lives. They had 1,000 volunteers registering participants just in Washington, DC on Saturday. HeadCount is a nonpartisan organization that usually focuses their efforts on registering young voters at concerts.
The group also deployed workers to register people at 2 dozen satellite marches nationwide and hoped to add tens of thousand of new voters to the voter registration rolls.
“Hearing prominent student leader Cameron Kasky and the powerful speech from classmate and fellow activist Emma Gonzalez on CNN, where she ended with a call for people to register to vote, made it obvious that it was time for HeadCount to engage,” HeadCount’s executive director, Andy Bernstein told Billboard Magazine. He said his group has registered nearly half a million voters since 2004 and he thinks Saturday’s marches were a great opportunity to inspire civic engagement on the part of young people.
Speakers at Saturday’s events told the people in attendance that the best way to really help gun reform to pass was to register to vote and go to the polls.
Many of the students who spoke in Washington reminded the crowds that voting is the only way to really exert pressure on politicians. They are seeking legislation such as universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
“Let’s take this to our local legislators and let’s take this to midterm elections,” said David Hogg, one of the survivors of the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Because without the persistent heat, without the persistence of voters and Americans everywhere getting out to every election, democracy will not flourish.”
“If there is no assault weapons ban passed, then we will vote them out,” said Delaney Tarr, another survivor of the school shooting.
In Parkland, Florida, Sari Kaufman, from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, urged her fellow students to get involved in politics and register to vote.
“With this movement, we will ensure record-breaking turnout not just in the next presidential election, not in the next midterm election, but in all elections,” Kaufman told a crowd of thousands at a rally in Parkland.
“We’re here today to give you the tools to make a change.”