All The Ways The Parkland Kids Are Getting Their Peers To Vote

L: David Hogg, C: Emma Gonzalez, R: Cameron Kasky.

It's been six months since we first got to know Emma González, David and Lauren Hogg, Cameron Kasky and their classmates from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In the time since 17 of their friends and teachers were murdered in a mass shooting, these kids have, against all the odds, organized a massive national rally, March For Our Lives, inspired a nationwide school walkout, participated in a CNN town hall, graced the cover of Time magazine, performed at the Tony Awards, and appeared on most of America's favorite talk shows.

They've also been subjected to having their academic records critiqued by news personalities, been accused of ripping up the Constitution, been accused of being crisis actors, and, in the case of Emma Gonzalez, been dismissed by a Republican House of Representatives candidate as "this skinhead lesbian." A brief summary of the many ways they've been disparaged, and their strategies for coping with it can be found in this video:

In the days following the Parkland shooting, many people assumed that the students wouldn't be able to maintain their momentum for very long; that life and school and good old-fashioned teenage fun would get in the way at some point. But those critics underestimated the sheer power of a group of passionate, organized, social media-savvy teenagers. Though we might see them on TV a bit less these days, the Parkland students never stopped working. With their primary goal of getting as many new people to register to vote as possible, the variety of ways they've figured out how to do that are nothing short of ingenious.

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During the March For Our Lives rally on March 25, at least 4,800 people filled out forms to register to vote. No one has been able to calculate how many more signed up online, but the push didn't stop at the end of that day. The first thing you see at the MFOL website is a form to register.

https://marchforourlives.com/

Understanding the power of their new-found fame, the students also spent their summer traveling the length and breadth of the country, making 75 stops in 25 states over 60 days, as part of their Road To Change tour.

Of course, not everyone can make it to a rally or tour stop—that's why the March For Our Lives crew have set up mobile communications. Texting 97779 with the word CHANGE gets you put on a mailing list, and two messages in, you'll receive a voter registration link and a text saying, "The most important thing you can do right now is register to vote, or send this to a friend that needs to register." Because when you're a Parkland teen, becoming a voter yourself is not enough—you have to get your friends to do it too.

Just when it seemed like there were no other avenues to travel in the students' push to register young voters, they recently one-upped themselves by enlisting a 20-year-old Stoneman Douglas graduate named Jammal Lemy to design a smart shirt. The American flag gracing the T-shirts, sweaters and hoodies contains a QR code that, when scanned with a cell phone, takes the user instantly to a voter registration page.

#MarchForOurLives Store

Getting people to register to vote is just the first step, and the Parkland activists know it. They list their ultimate goals as: funding gun violence research, eliminating restrictions on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, universal background checks for gun owners, a high-capacity magazine ban, a semi-automatic assault rifle ban, funding for intervention programs, extreme risk protection orders, disarming all domestic abusers, a federal law specifically targeting gun trafficking, mandatory safe storage and theft reporting.

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There can be no doubt at this stage that the Parkland kids are out to transform America, and no amount of roadblocks are going to get in their way. It's impossible to watch them and not feel a little awed by their tenacity and focus. More than that though, these teenagers act as an influence, an inspiration and an important reminder that, even in the face of real pain and trauma, there are always ways to turn defeat into defiance.

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