The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., in February changed something among many young people in the United States.

First came the March for Our Lives protests on March 24, with teens around the country organizing and speaking out in favor of tighter gun-control laws.

Now those same youngsters, as they turn 18, are registering to vote—and trying to put political pressure on congressional leaders who oppose stricter gun-control laws.

Matthew Chang, a senior at Palm Desert High School, is one of those teens: He helped mount a voter-registration drive among his classmates.

“It was very successful,” Chang said. “During the days we had the drive, we registered about 35 people to vote, and then we worked in conjunction with a club that was planning a walk-out protest, and we helped them register people to vote, too.”

Robert Westwood, the president of the Democrats of the Desert, got to know Chang when the student showed up at a meeting looking for help with his voter-registration efforts. Chang isn’t alone: Westwood said students from Palm Springs High School and Shadow Hills High School have also reached out.

“We had Matthew and four young ladies from Shadow Hills High School come to one of our Democrats of the Desert meetings,” Westwood said. “They really energized our club. They gave us a lot of information about what they’re doing and their enthusiasm for getting young people registered to vote, and then out to vote—which are two very different tasks. We can’t go onto a campus, and (registration) can only be done within a campus with permission from the administration.”

Chang said the school walkouts that have been taking place throughout the country are sending a message.

“Whatever anyone’s stances are on the walkout, we can all agree that it helped to show that we, as teens, have a bigger voice than we originally thought,” Chang said. “I think registering younger people to vote comes from that. If we do things like walkouts, which shows people we have a voice, more people will want to register to vote to enhance their voice and become politically active.”

What made Chang decide to become politically active?

“During my freshman year, I joined a club called Youth in Government, and it was with the YMCA,” he said. “It really changed my perspective, because before, I was really apathetic to what was going on around me, and it showed me that I have a say in what’s going on, and if I have an opinion, I need to share it.”

What do his parents think about his political involvement?

“They’re not really into politics,” Chang said. “I don’t think they even knew that I was doing the voter-registration drive. It was just something that I took on. They’re not really into politically related things.”

Talking to other young people about political subjects is not always easy, Chang said.

“I do think that talking to young people who have not had a government class yet is difficult,” Chang said. “Not many young people keep track of the news as much as people wish that they did. … More-educated young people are easy to talk to about politics. Because of that, I think we should try harder to educate younger people.”

Westwood said Chang’s involvement with the Democrats of the Desert has been inspirational.

“He came and talked to us and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance at one of our meetings where we had 150 people, and everybody got up and cheered him—and some people were crying,” Westwood said. “He also had the student body president from Palm Desert High School come with him, and she gave a rousing talk about the importance of young people keeping this going, and asked for our help. She offered their help to register young people and get young people out to vote. Now we’re moving on projects to get people to vote by mail and show up to vote on June 5.”

Chang’s time at Palm Desert High School is about to come to a close, and he said he plans on remaining active in college.

“Next year, I am going to college at Harvard, and I want to join the Democratic Club at Harvard,” he said. “I’m going to work on some campaigns and help some Democratic candidates I support.”

While Chang is optimistic overall, he did admit he has some concerns about politics.

“I think that we are becoming increasingly polarized in politics. A lot of the exchanges I hear between different parties are often not attempts to work with the other party, but are often trying to degrade the other party as much as possible. I don’t think that’s the direction that we need to be going in. We need bipartisan proposals to make sure that all perspectives are heard, and we can all work together as a nation.”

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Brian Blueskye

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Brian Blueskye moved to the Coachella Valley in 2005. He was the assistant editor and staff writer for the Coachella Valley Independent from 2013 to 2019. He is currently the...

One reply on “Voting for Their Lives: After the School Shooting in Parkland, Fla., Students Took to the Streets. Now They’re Registering to Vote.”

  1. Brian
    As with all the other articles in this CV independent paper it’s strictly from a liberal point of view no other views are allowed
    So it’s pretty much all propaganda piece.
    The Liberals are warping the minds of these young kids
    These kids don’t know anything about anything, indoctrinated by the American hating Liberals have a very young age then further propagandized throughout high school and college to become good little communists and we’re supposed be excited that they’re voting?
    Liberalism has literally become a cancer upon our society
    Much like cancer you don’t care about the host ( The host being America ) all that the Liberals seem to care about is themselves they always put America second hating on almost everything and doing nothing but staring at their phones all day long getting further propagandized
    I ask myself when we were attacked Pearl Harbor man, good and decent actual men lined up to go and fight for our country. Do you think today’s liberals would do the same? Or were they just hand the country over to Japan?
    Today’s liberal kids are more worried about their Xbox games free money, not engaging in hard work, social media, and becoming politically involved when they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing
    They just do what the teachers and the liberal media tell them to do like good little communists .
    I dare any liberal that happens to read this although I don’t think anybody actually reads the CV independent but nonetheless I dare you to watch the movie “agenda the grinding down of America”
    The funny thing is he’s kids walk around today saying that they are “woke“ but that is so far from the truth it’s ridiculous . They are more asleep than anyone
    I realize I’ve strayed away from original report but it leads into this report
    We don’t have a gun problem we have an idiot problem
    Our children are idiots. Self-indulgent, spoiled rotten, little brats. Entitled in every way and expecting the world to hand them something.
    Hating on conservatives when it’s conservatives that offer most of the jobs out there in the world
    It’s conservatives that a fight and died for this country so they can have the luxury of being morons
    When I was a child I lived in the moral environment where every check every one of us were driven to school with guns in the vehicle we had guns in the house some of us would bring guns to school and never one person was shot never wants we never even thought about it
    When I was a child I lived in the moral environment where every child every one of us were driven to school with guns in the vehicle we had guns in the house some of us would bring guns to school and never one person was shot never once we never even thought about it but these angry, pissed off little entitled brats that we have these days have no regard for life and I honestly believe a lot of it has to do with how violent the movies the TV the video games have gotten
    If you watch a movie or video game the only way to solve your problem is to kill a bunch of people
    not only that but let’s say a person is bullied to the point where they lash out. When I was younger if there was a bully it was a one on one scenario now through social media (which is the worst thing that’s ever happened to our country ) now a person can have 150 Bullies.
    What’s worse is because of liberal policies (IE the HIPPA act) If we have a young man that has a mental issue and is depressed or ridiculously angry or even slightly autistic because of the Hyppa act that can’t be reported to the government agencies that would do a background check to make sure that they can’t get a weapon
    If we have a young man that has a mental issue and is depressed or ridiculously angry or even slightly autistic because of the Hyppa act that can’t be reported to government agencies that would do a background check to make sure they can’t get a weapon
    But these kids go on and on and on about guns it’s not a gun problem it’s a them problem
    Here’s a prime example of a failed liberal policy (which there are thousands upon thousands)
    Let’s say in my neighborhood I see for men with knives stabbing a woman to death .
    If I was living in Arizona where it’s mostly conservative I would be able to pull my weapon on those people and if they didn’t stop what they’re doing I would be fully engaged and illuminate the threat to that woman and save her life .
    But here in California I would go to prison for saving that woman’s life so thank you liberals because of you that woman has to die because it’ll take 2 to 5 minutes for the police to arrive
    Although I’m wasting my time writing this it’s more for me than anyone else I imagine because nobody really reads the CV independent
    But if this makes its way to the editor somehow and I doubt it will you should not worry about yourself so much you should not worry about your agenda so much you should not worry about any one group of people so much you should try putting your country first because much like a cancer once you kill the host then the cancer itself dies with it.
    Again the euphemism there is for those that don’t care about the country and in fact ridicule people who do love the country and only care about themselves or their antiwhite pro gay anti-religion pro communism agenda you will eventually kill THE COUNTRY

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