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From the protest to the polls: How to get friends to be politically active

Protesters chant during the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Los Angeles, United States.
Protesters chant during the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Los Angeles, United States.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

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Tens of thousands of protesters attended the March For Our Lives rally in downtown L.A. over the weekend. It was just one of several protests across the country and around the globe in support of gun control. 

With so much talk of youth voter engagement, Take Two wanted to know whether these street protests will turn into voter action. Mindy Romero is the founder and director of the California Civic Engagement Project at the Unviersity of California-Davis. She spoke to A Martínez about four ways to make people more politically active.

1. Find an emotional connection to your issue, then talk about it

What we saw over the weekend was a tangible, emotional issue [of gun control]. Young people were connecting with the political process...wanting to [literally] defend their lives. It gives us hope that they will turn out to vote. 

2. Get specific about action

Young people typically have a lack of familiarity with the electoral process and aren't used to hearing from they can feel disconnected from the political process. The way to get them connected is to talk about issues that are in their communities, things that they are already taking action on in other ways, and help them to see how voting is an actionable step on these issues. [At March For Our Lives] we actually heard people talking about voting and registration. They said they're going to express their voice at the ballot box.

3. Work together with people who can tackle the issues

Look for allies. If you can't vote, talk to older people who can. Look at politicians and candidates who support you. This weekend, [protesters] made allies with high profile people and elected officials who already feel the same way. And [protesters] are talking about using their vote to influence others, actually getting [activists] into positions of power. 

4. Don't be disillusioned by the voting process

We are a low-voting society overall, so I think many of the things that work for younger people also work for older people. How does voting matter? Specifically, what candidates, positions or local and statewide measures actually connect to the issues I care about. How can I think strategically about my vote to make sure it matters. 

*This interview has been edited for clarity