Anika Attaluri, 17, of Chandler, Arizona, a senior at Hamilton High School, played a leadership role in a national grassroots initiative that registered more than 35,000 young people to vote in the 2020 election. Anika, a first-generation American, is a passionate advocate for civic engagement in young people and people of color. She also knew how intimidating the voting process can be for first-time voters, and that the COVID-19 pandemic was presenting challenges for the registration and voting process. So when she was asked to play a leadership role in a program promoting youth voter registration, she was “ecstatic” to take on a leadership role.
Anika was tasked with building teams across the country to maximize voter participation. She recruited student volunteers through Instagram and phone calls, oversaw national and statewide virtual meetings, and created social media content to spread awareness about election issues and debunk voting myths. Next, she collaborated with fellow volunteers to deliver virtual classroom presentations in high schools and host weekly in-person registration drives, with particular emphasis on areas with traditionally low voter turnout. In addition, Anika and her teams created voting guides, election reminders and safe voting tips, and helped distribute personal protective equipment at polling sites on election day. Since the election ended last year, she has continued to work with her teams to create and distribute educational resources to empower communities to be civically engaged.