Gun-reform activists spur voter registration at high schools

Posted at 4:16 AM, May 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-30 01:41:41-04

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) - Students at more than 1,000 schools across the country are registering young voters in lunchrooms, hallways and even at upcoming graduation ceremonies in a week of activism aimed at electing lawmakers who support gun reforms in response to school shootings in Florida and Texas.

David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, is spearheading the national effort along with the New York-based organization HeadCount.

Hogg and organization officials say students at more than 1,000 schools in 46 states are participating, with most starting their drives Tuesday.

Their goal is to have 90 percent of the nation’s high schools host drives before the current senior class graduates in hopes of boosting young-voter turnout, which is traditionally low, especially during midterm elections.

HeadCount, a national organization that has registered nearly half a million voters since 2004, mostly at concerts and music festivals, also hosted voter tables at the March For Our Lives gun-reform rally organized by Hogg and other Parkland students in Washington, D.C., that drew hundreds of thousands of young people in March. Voter-registration drives were the logical next step after months of rallies and schools walkouts, the activists said.

Hogg says all the rhetoric on gun reform is worthless unless voters oust lawmakers who are beholden to the National Rifle Association. The students want tighter regulations on guns, including universal background checks and training for people who own AR-15s and similar semi-automatic rifles.

“We need to vote people out of office that are perpetuating issues affecting young people like gun violence. ... The youth don’t vote lawmakers into office and as a result they don’t work for them,” he said.