The following post is by Ambika Verma a biology major at the University of California, Los Angeles. She serves on the Nevada Secretary of State’s Committee on Participatory Democracy where she suggests and implements improvements in the state’s voting system, is active in her student government on campus, and has, in the past, worked closely with the nonprofit Inspire U.S. to register students to vote at her high school and attend community events with local officials.
Government is the people’s servant; it is for the people and by the people. The cornerstone of our enduring democracy is civic virtue, yet in recent years we have seen a stark fall in civic efficacy. Everyone, regardless of age, creed, or background owns a stake in the public policies legislated by their local, state, and federal governments. Unfortunately, millennials, despite composing a large part of the electorate, continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group. As the future of our nation, millennials have the largest stake in our government. That is why in high school, I got involved in Inspire Nevada, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization under Inspire U.S. Inspire U.S. is based on the concept of peer-to-peer voter registration and aims to empower students to drive positive change in their communities by using their voices.
As a part of Inspire Nevada and Inspire U.S., I received opportunities to not only register more than 75% of my senior class, but also to engage with community leaders, research legislation and lobby, and give workshops on civil discourse and civic engagement to my peers. Each year, we would have an annual multi-day forum where we would engage in leadership building activities, discuss strategies to improve voter turnout in our respective high schools, and talk with community leaders. In short, Inspire gave me the tools I needed to create positive change.
This program should be implemented in every high school, so millennials are educated about the importance of voting and civic engagement early on. This program is available in several states including Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin, but should be expanded to the remaining 42 states and DC. Voting should not be a one-time occasion, but a habit, and programs like Inspire are the key to creating lifelong voters. I am thankful to this program for giving me an outlet to turn my passion into action and opening up so many doors for me.