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March For Our Lives Rallies Made A Huge Push To Register Teen Voters Across The US

Registering young people to vote was a top priority for the thousands of people who rallied across the US Saturday as part of the March for Our Lives protests against gun violence.

Last updated on March 24, 2018, at 11:35 p.m. ET

Posted on March 24, 2018, at 7:16 p.m. ET

Teens who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — and who organized Saturday's March for Our Lives rally — have started a forceful push to register new voters as part of a long-term strategy to bring about changes in US gun laws.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Voter registration was a big theme at the main march in Washington, DC, with the Parkland teens behind the Never Again movement making a point to mention it in their speeches.

"Get out there and vote. Get out there and get registered," Emma González said to the crowd.

David Hogg, another Never Again leader, echoed González, saying, “Vote for us, vote for our future."

“The next steps for our movement are voter education, voter registration, and making sure people our age vote," Never Again leader Cameron Kasky told BuzzFeed News.

"The 18-to-25 [age] demographic, they had a 1-in-5 voter turnout [rate] for the last election," Kasky said in an interview Saturday. "That’s embarrassing. If we can get more people our age voting, the steam will just pick up. Our politicians won’t be able to run away from the future.”

Never Again leaders also announced a formal partnership with HeadCount, a nonpartisan group backed by Rock the Vote that registers voters at musical events.

HeadCount said its volunteers registered more than 4,000 new voters at 30 March for Our Lives demonstrations across the country Saturday.

In cities around the US, volunteers at satellite marches helped young people register to vote, in many cases for the first time.

"It’s time for change," said Katrina Ferguson, 25, who is studying to become a teacher and registered to vote for the first time at the New York City march Saturday.

Katrina Ferguson, 25, just registered to vote for the first time via Head Count, an organization that has 120 volunteers out with registration forms in NYC

"We think we're going to register more voters today than at any single event we've done in our history," said HeadCount volunteer Andy Bernstein.

Stephanie McNeal / BuzzFeed News

"This is the first time we've ever done a march," Bernstein said. He told BuzzFeed News that HeadCount hoped to register at least 5,000 voters Saturday.

Matt Gendron, a HeadCount volunteer from Massachusetts, said the organization brought over a thousand people to help register voters at the DC march.

This is Greg, who turns 18 on Tuesday, registering to vote with a volunteeer at the DC #MarchForOurLives

“We’ve had 11 people register to vote. It’s been incredible,” said Katie Gehron, a HeadCount volunteer from Virginia.

At a rally in Montana, volunteers estimated that between 30 and 50 young people registered to vote for the first time.

Final note from out here in Montana. They’re not just mobilizing. They’re registering to vote. According to these volunteers, the vast majority who registered today: young people.

“We need to vote politicians supported by the NRA out of office,” said Sylvia Luceno, a student at Hellgate High in Missoula, Montana, who registered to vote for the first time on Saturday.

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Pam Weisbrod, along with 30 other volunteers from the Palm Beach Indivisibles, helped people register to vote at a rally in Florida.

Rosalind Adams / BuzzFeed News

She estimated that she registered about a dozen people Saturday morning, including teenagers preregistering to vote and older people.

"The response has been amazing," Weisbrod told BuzzFeed News. "We’ve gotten a bunch of people to sign up to vote by mail, which we're promoting because it increases voter participation by almost 50%. We’ve gotten a great response."

Weisbrod said the event left her feeling hopeful. "I'm encouraged by what I'm seeing today," she said. "I think this will be one of the bigger turnouts for the midterms."

“This is so powerful,” said Samantha Acosta, an 18-year-old student at Vista Murrieta High School in Los Angeles who registered to vote Saturday. “This is what made me register. I had been lazy about it and now I was like, this is time.”

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"Make sure to go vote," said Hayley Lichea, a 16-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Lichea (right) attended the march in LA with classmate Mia Freeman (left) 17.

"I already preregistered at my school. They had us all do it. If you were 16 or up you could preregister," Lichea said.

“One of the main goals was to make sure that the students know that they have a voice in government and a chair at the table,” said Steven Adriano Garza, a 17-year-old junior at Mayde Creek High School in Houston.

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“We know that a lot of the politicians are going to be gone in a few years but their decisions will affect us for the rest of our lives. It’s our future they are messing with and we should have a say in this,” Garza told BuzzFeed News.

Garza, along with Paige Cromley, right, announced the creation of a new nonprofit, Students Rise, at the March for Our Lives rally in Houston Saturday.

"Our nonprofit is going to work on getting students registered to vote and to make sure they get out to vote," Garza told BuzzFeed News.

"I wasn't actually aware you could register before you're 18, as long as you're 18 when it comes time to vote. So today I learned that and once I saw the booth I went right over there," said Krista Kelly, 17, a newly registered voter who attended a march in Austin.

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"I would say we got here at 10 a.m. to set up, and it was kind of slow at first," said Katie Cahill, a volunteer helping to register new voters in Austin Saturday. "But once the march got closer to the capitol building, it really picked up. We've had quite a good turnout, especially for new voters, so that's very exciting."

In Arizona, the crowd at a pre-march rally outside the state capitol building chanted "I will vote" and "We want change."

Throughout the crowd, there’s volunteers registering people to vote. “We’ve got to be just like the NRA. If [a candidate] is not going to be a gun sense voter, they don’t get our vote,” one activist says #marchforourlives

Nicole Parisi-Smith, a HeadCount volunteer in Phoenix, told BuzzFeed News that she had signed up more teens to volunteer on Saturday than at any other event she can remember.

“We’re here because we want to empower young people to have a voice,” she said.

HeadCount estimated its volunteers registered a total of between 3,000 and 4,500 voters in person Saturday, based on preliminary numbers.

HeadCount said Saturday that it had registered 1,552 voters in Washington, DC, and 757 more in New York, the two largest marches of the 30 cities where HeadCount deployed some 2,200 volunteers.

"These were people learning how to register voters for the first time,” said HeadCount spokesperson Aaron Ghitelman. “It was exciting to see.”

A final tally was still being calculated as of Saturday night.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.