On the Friday before Labor Day, I called Claire Longcore, 18, and tried to make a bit of small talk. I remarked that there was a three-day weekend coming up, and she responded rather bluntly that she had lost all concept of time. Like many kids, Claire has spent the last six months at home, and she’s one-hundred percent over it.
Now preparing to enter her freshman year at the University of Washington, the Kirkland, WA native will be receiving some reprieve by moving into a dorm and living on campus, even though many of her classes will be online. Still, preparing for this new chapter has sort of played second fiddle to Claire’s bigger priority: getting as many people as possible registered to vote before the November election. It’s a project she’s worked on for the last four years as a Girl Scout, and in just a few weeks, not only will she head to the polls to cast her first vote, but hopefully, so will the more than one hundred people she helped register. (Claire is one of the inspiring Girl Scouts we’re talking to as part of our partnership with Girl Scouts).
“I was 14 during the 2016 election, and I was like, ‘Oh my God. This is going to have an effect on me.’ I was essentially a tween, but I was finally old enough to understand that the actions of other people at the local and national levels affect me and are going to affect the people around me, in addition to those in marginalized communities,” explained Claire. To register as many young people as possible, Claire set up voter registration drives at outdoor movies and farmer’s markets, as well as working with other young people to build a website for young people all about registering to vote. “Obviously, in 2016, I wasn’t quite old enough to vote yet, but there are programs in Washington that allow you to pre-register to vote at 16 and 17. I found that basically nobody had any idea about those kinds of programs. I wanted to find a way to make a difference and get people to register—and to show up to vote, which doesn’t always happen—and allow people to actually do their civic duty.”
Below, Claire explains how she managed to register over 100 voters, the issues she thinks are most important for her generation, and how anyone—literally anyone—can make a difference right now.
The Girl Scouts gave me the social skills and the leadership skills I needed to actually feel confident doing this project. I wasn’t really a social kid growing up, and Girl Scouts gave me a community for a really long stretch of time, and also access to people my age and adults who were willing to help me learn how to speak to people, how to write emails, and all of that basic stuff. They also taught me a ton of leadership skills, beyond basic social skills. I was a program aid at a summer camp for a couple of years, and that was a crash course in how to lead other people my age, how to lead people who were younger than I am, and how to interact with adults as equals. Girl Scouts itself is basically about leadership and preparing yourself for going out into the world as somebody who is experienced. All of my badges were targeted toward something that will be useful to me later in life and is also fun. Through Girl Scouts, I got a community, I got access to a ton of people, connections, networking, social skills, and just confidence in myself so I could go out and do this project. I would never have done this project without Girl Scouts.
Find this story inspiring? We’ve teamed up with Girl Scouts of the USA to encourage women to vote with limited-edition patches! Learn more here.