Every year, four million Americans turn 18 and gain the right to vote. A group of Third Actors visited Modesto Junior College in Congressional District 13 to register young college students. In just two days, we, along with our partners, successfully registered 249 students.

At first, it felt challenging to approach people and ask if they were registered to vote and if they wanted to protect the climate. I have felt safe writing postcards from home and dropping off my postcards at the local post office. But I’m never sure they are read. When Third Act partnered with the Bay Area Coalition and Field Team 6 to register voters in Modesto, I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone and volunteer.

I learned that college students are generally very polite and would spend time talking with me. I learned about their interests and what they were studying. I also learned how some thought voting didn’t make a difference, while others couldn’t wait to vote in their first election. And many had little knowledge of how our party system works. None of them knew that in their District 13, the Republican Congressman won by less than 600 votes.

You might not think there are competitive congressional districts in your state, but even in California, we have several districts that are targeted to be flipped in 2024 so that climate champions can win. Northern California is specifically looking at Congressional Districts 13 and 22.

Yet, what struck me most about this action isn’t just the number of people we’ve registered, but the astonishing diversity of volunteers working together. Four of us did the long 2-3 hour drive to Modesto together. During the drive, we shared our life stories. Many of us have fought for decades in civil rights and anti-war movements. Others are new to activism. Many have parents and grandparents who fought in labor movements. Among our community of volunteers, there is an incredible array of life experiences. We looked at one another and realized that with all our differences, we were doing the same work together and were united in our passion for fighting to protect our planet.

As we approached home and were talking about our shared concerns for our planet, we got on to a birding conversation.  I mentioned how I love sandhill cranes and that I always see the same pair of cranes by the Boulder River when I visit Montana and it makes me so joyful. One of the Third Actors responded how she had been a docent at an Ecological Reserve visited by sandhill cranes not far from where we live. She is going to take me there this fall to see hundreds and sometimes even thousands of sandhills cranes arrive at dusk. I can’t wait.

Help Register High School Seniors

Third Act partners with The Civics Center to do intergenerational voter registration of high school seniors, and is an active member of the Ready to Vote Coalition.

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Write Postcards to Voters 2023

Postcards are an effective way to increase voter turnout and win in tight races. Third Act’s goal: send 10,000 postcards to voters by Election Day 2023!

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Clara Greisman

Clara Greisman is a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Working Group.