Long involved in a variety of civic activities focused on bettering their communities, Chris Stokes and Nancy Viano became concerned about the low turnout among younger voters.
Recognizing that our nation's future depends on active engagement from young adults who will soon make up the majority of our electorate, they started an initiative to communicate the importance of voting regularly and offer high school and college students the opportunity to become registered voters quickly and easily.
Chris and Nancy's idea quickly took hold and has grown to include over 100 volunteers interacting with students in 14 high schools and four colleges to register more than 8,150 new voters since 2018. More than 28,285 students have received information and inspiring messages about the importance of having a voice to shape their futures.
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed that’s all who ever have.”
"By becoming a mentor, you will touch the life of a child, make a difference in tomorrow's youth, and give back to your community by investing in a young person who will, in turn, mentor the next generation." -- Thomas Dortch
To increase participation by young adults in the democratic process including providing voter registration opportunities and access to educational resources.
What the Vote! (WTV!) is an entirely volunteer organization comprised of community partners who are passionate about reaching out to high school and college students to inspire them to engage in democracy. Non-partisan messages are intended to make the voting process easier for students by demonstrating how to become an informed voter, registering them to vote and exciting them about the impact their vote can have on their daily lives.
Volunteers make presentations to thousands of students in high school government classes and on college campuses. We hope this will continue to be an annual activity that grows to include more school districts in the Treasure Valley, and ultimately across the entire state. As the program becomes more well known, we expect to assist other volunteers as they expand ways to reach out to young voters, inspire them to engage in democracy and provide resources for making informed voting choices. A measure of success with this program will be when a larger, more representative percentage, of young voters understand their role in our democracy and demonstrate how important it is to participate by exercising their right to vote in every election.