'If you weren't here, I wouldn’t have registered to vote'

By Becca Tabor
National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) Intern

image2_-_Copy.JPGBefore I get to the good stuff, I’d like to briefly introduce myself. My name is Becca, and I joined ACCESS earlier this year as an intern with the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), one of ACCESS' national institutions. I’m currently studying social work, and I hope to someday become involved in community organizing and policy, particularly around U.S. foreign policy related to immigration and global poverty. I feel really fortunate to be working with everyone here at NNAAC, and I am looking forward to learning more and engaging with the community over the next year.

And now for the main purpose of this post: voter registration!

We witnessed such an important presidential election this year and it was in the heat of it that I started my internship. My first task was working on voter registration. Although I am a big proponent of everyone participating in elections, I had never actually registered people before my internship at NNAAC. The first day I went out to register people I was at Monroe County Community College. I was surprised at how many people were eager to register, and in just three hours I had registered 24 new voters!

I received many positive reactions among students, including several telling me, “If you weren't here, I wouldn’t have registered to vote."

Numbers of new voters registered has fluctuated as I’ve traveled to various college campuses, but the response has remained fairly positive. In addition to registering new voters, many people who had already registered to vote filled out pledge cards, which we mailed to them shortly before Election Day to remind them of their polling location and  to show up to vote on Nov. 8!

139A8420.JPGHowever, I was also struck by the students' negative reactions. After inquiring if they were registered to vote, some students would respond that they weren’t and that they had no intention of registering. They expressed frustration with the candidates and said they felt their vote wouldn’t make a difference. In my experience, these feelings of frustration with the election process and voting in general in the U.S. have been quite common among young voters. 

The past few weeks spent registering voters has helped me realize the importance of the efforts of organizations like ACCESS in empowering young people by helping them register to vote, and for advocating for voters’ rights through meetings with city clerks and recruitment of poll workers and election challengers. Registering voters has been a beneficial experience for me, and I encourage others who are interested to get involved in on-the-ground work in the future. 

This post was written by NNAAC Intern Becca Tabor. You can reach her at RTabor@accesscommunity.org

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