On Election Day, young people get a bad rap. They vote in lower numbers than any other age group — and Americans’ turnout for all ages is pretty pathetic to begin with.
Ella Berg is on a mission to change that.
Last year — as a Staples High School junior — she created an online primer for Westport voters. It included links to registration and voting information, plus short, factual descriptions of the positions of candidates for governor, senator, congressman, state representatives, and all other races.
This year, Ella’s gone national.
Months ago before she turned 18, while trying to figure how to pre-register to vote, she noticed that information specific to one state was tough to find.
So Ella got to work. She researched all 50 states — plus Washington, DC and 4 US territories — and then created a website, filled with information and links.
For every state, she had to find a general information page that provides details on voter identification requirements; how to vote online or cast an absentee ballot, and — crucially — offers a polling place locator.
It was hard work.
“Many state-sponsored voting sites are disorganized, outdated, or missing key information,” Ella says.
The result — VoteAcrossAmerica.org — is clear, coherent, easy to use. Click here to access it.
But Ella did not stop there.
As a young voter, she wants to make sure her peers know how and when to cast ballots. She emailed the website to deans of students at the biggest public universities in each state, suggesting they offer it as a resource. Most wrote back, saying they were happy to do so.
Ella is also marketing the site through Twitter (@VoteAcrossUSA).
Amid all this she is a typical Staples senior, with all the excitement and stress of applying to college. She hopes to study public policy there — with the goal of reforming the electoral system, “to make American elections more accurately reflect the will of the people.”
She adds, “I believe that equal voter access is one of the most important factors in a strong democracy. Even though I am still in high school, I’d like to do everything I can to boost voter turnout.”
She’s already doing it. When it comes to civic responsibility and engagement, Ella Berg gets my vote.
(PS: Live in Westport? Click here for a quick link to all local voting information.)