An Intern’s Point of View on Voter Registration

For the past six weeks I have been doing voter registration with the Northern Nevada PLAN team. I have had a wide variety of interactions during this process, from registering first-time-voters who are well over 30 years old, to long conversations about civic engagement and the state of our communities.

By far the most frustrating, recurring experience I had while registering folks to vote was running into people who bragged about never voting. I spent one day at the Nevada State Fair, and during a span of eight hours, I had ten different women brag to me about their lack of interest in civic engagement. It was incredibly difficult for me to empathize with that sentiment. Growing up, I was constantly reminded implicitly and explicitly that I could be involved in government on all levels because despite being a woman, my class and racial standing meant that in many ways the government would work for me. Although it took me a while to figure it out, I finally realized that most of the people I talked to while doing registration had not received the same message I had while growing up. Many of them expressed that they had always been told that they shouldn’t vote because they were not educated enough and their vote ultimately wouldn’t matter. I know that corporate involvement in government these days makes it extremely difficult to believe that our voices matter, but ultimately what I have learned through the process of voter registration these past six weeks is this:

  1. For local elections, especially in rural Nevada, every vote absolutely counts. Yes, there is still a massive amount of money in local elections, but there are less people in our cities and counties, raising the value of each individual vote.
  2. In national elections, Nevada’s vote counts. As a swing state, politicians are interested in what our state has to say about the future of our nation.
  3. Yes, the election process in this country is flawed, but the only way that we can change that is by working together, forming coalitions, and forcing corporations and government to be accountable for their actions and to the communities they represent.

I am thankful for the experiences and community I got to be a part of as an intern at PLAN. I am leaving with a better understanding of my own identity and the structures of power at play in my community, but I am also leaving with a million more questions than when I started. These questions and the people that I had the pleasure of working with have given me the motivation to dive deeper into the struggle for equity.

-Callen Aten

I am leaving with a better understanding of my own identity and the structures of power at play in my community[…]

Callen Aten

PLAN Intern

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