Wendy Davis Holds Voter Registration Event


Sanika Nayak

Seniors sit together while waiting to register to vote

As seniors approach adulthood, many look forward to exercising their rights as new voters and taking part in the political process. To help provide an avenue for young adults looking to register to vote, State Senator Wendy Davis and her organization, Deeds Not Words, held a voter advocacy program after school in the cafeteria on March 19. Although the event was primarily geared toward seniors, students of all ages were invited to attend in order to learn more about becoming politically engaged.

The event, which was entirely non-partisan, started off with organizers Krithika Shamanna ‘18, Sanjana Bettadpur ‘18, Lauren Gregorczyk ‘18, and Arjun Jain ‘18 speaking about the importance of voting. Prominent leaders in the Deeds Not Words campaign also spoke about current voter statistics and the importance of young people going to the polls in order to implement change.

“I wanted to help organize the event because it represented a really important opportunity for Westwood students to learn more about how to engage with the political process and start learning about ways we as students can implement change,” Jain said. “Registering to vote is especially important because voting is a way to let your opinions be heard and shape the policies that affect our lives.”

After discussing the importance of voting, students attending the event were encouraged to speak about issues important to them and possible solutions to these problems. Many students spoke about the need for mental health facilities in high schools, the issue of gun control, creating inclusive curriculum in schools, and much more. The organizers of the event helped to facilitate the discussion, after which Senator Davis herself arrived to answer questions and meet the potential new voters. A question and answer session was held with Senator Davis for about a half an hour, in which students were able to ask questions about the political process and Senator Davis’ advice for being informed and open-minded voters in an increasingly divided society.

“Although it may seem satisfying [to block out opinions we don’t agree with], in the process we are unfortunately not challenging our own thinking because we’re not inviting different ideas to help influence us,” Senator Davis said.

After the Q&A, the volunteer team helped those who were of age register to vote. Senator Davis’ organization, Deeds Not Words, centers around the idea that youth should get involved to help promote gender equity. This includes a wide range of issues such as economical equity for women, women’s healthcare, and women’s safety.

“We focus at the local, state, and national level. We are huge proponents of trying to get people involved in the legislative process such as in a local city council or in your own school,” Director of Policy Advocacy Alicia Wiegel said.

Students of any grade level can get involved with the organization by starting a school chapter focusing around an issue he or she is passionate about. For example, through Deeds Not Words, Shamanna has initiated an effort called LaunchPad to help provide free menstrual products throughout the school for all girls.

When asked about what gives her hope for the future, Senator Davis responded by saying that it is the actions she feels that the young generation will take that continue to give her hope.

“Truly and sincerely, I am hopeful about what your generation will do in the shaping of America,” Senator Davis said. “As I look for example at the students of Parkland Florida who have set an expectation of lawmakers, they’re setting a high bar. I think we need to do more of that.”