You live in Auburn now but grew up in the Triangle—how did you get involved as a poll worker?
I was involved with NC INSPIRE, which is a group that encourages high school students to become civically engaged by getting their peers to organize. I was the lead at my high school, and I was hosting and facilitating voter registration drives. Through that job we met with the Orange County Board of Elections and got to talk to the officials, and they were opening a new position as an election assistant specifically for high school students. They wanted people that were 17 and up to be able to take part in the election. They wanted to get young people involved, and they were switching to computers, and a lot of the people that usually work elections were older. I signed up and worked an election.
How many elections have you worked?
I have worked four elections.
When did you decide to turn your passion for civic engagement into a clothing line?
That passion has been there, but around December, I got the idea. In the primaries and general election, I had seen that there were no young people. I worked it, and I knew there should be such-and-such a number of people there; it was one of the largest polling places. And given the opportunity now—I was in college and I wanted to change things. It just came to me one day: “I should do this with clothes.” I want to make this look stylish, and I want to get to people that don’t normally like politics or go out of their way to vote. I want this to be something that everyone can resonate with—that it doesn’t matter [what] your age, race, gender is. This is an all-encompassing message.
How can clothes help get that message across for your generation?
We love to take pictures for the ‘gram! We love to show our creativity and style, and it resonates. It’s all about going to the people. In election practices, in general, I get angry—we don’t go to the people. We make it very hard to access information.
Have you had conversations start while wearing the shirts?
Everyone who bought a shirt says they get compliments. It does open up a conversation and dialogue sometimes. I remember, I went to get food one time and I was wearing a hoodie and some girl commented on it and it opened up a 10–15 minutes conversation. It leads to organic conversations where I can talk about what MVM is trying to do and voting practices and my own experiences.
Why is it so important to get young people out to the polls?
According to census data from 2012, people between the ages of 18–29 make up 21 percent of the U.S. population. Additionally, in 2000 a popular vote shift of .3 percent in a few states would have changed the outcome of the election. When put into the context of 2016, where the popular vote victory was immensely greater, and turnout from young voters was considerably low, I can almost guarantee that if we ran the numbers it would be a similar trend because low turnout amplifies the electoral power of smaller states.
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