Student Task Force Gets Out the Vote

Eliana Feinstein, Editor-in-Chief

Although America’s recent national election took place in the midst of a pandemic, the engagement of young and old resulted in the largest voter turnout in history.

Locally, part of the youth movement was Palisades Charter High School’s Human Rights Watch Student Task Force, which aims to raise awareness and inspire activism in its young members.

The club’s latest campaign, “Vote for Human Rights,” resulted in registering more than 300 new voters, according to Co-Presidents Isabel Gill and Madison Liberman.

The Student Task Force collaborated with Pali’s Associated Student Body to organize a schoolwide Voter Registration Week from October 5 through 9. Presenter Serena Broome, a Pali senior and researcher for the STF, said students learned about voting rights history as well as the evolution of voter suppression.

Broome, who began researching these issues over the summer, said learning about the civil rights movement and historical figures “who were on the front lines fighting for voting rights” compelled her to become a poll worker. She also said she volunteered after hearing elderly citizens’ concerns about staffing polls during the pandemic.

Pali senior Nathalia Wyss, an STF vice president, also responded to the call for voting poll workers. She said that the experience was important to her because she had accompanied her mom to vote in every previous presidential election.

“When I was old enough, now, to work at the polling station, I really wanted to,” she said.

In preparation for election day, each of the 14 Student Task Force chapters across Los Angeles participated in a mock election after hosting an STF Virtual Town Hall on October 14. Participants learned about California Propositions 16, 17 and 18 by listening to debates and guest speakers.

Liberman said there were “riveting, emotional speeches about why people that have been formerly incarcerated should have the right to vote.” Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber also spoke about affirmative action.

“It was just a really powerful experience,” Gill said. “I think everyone who watched felt much more informed.”

“Our whole thing is about education and advocacy,” she continued, “and so we have all these resources,” specifically on the STF website. The club’s publicity team also created flyers and a social media campaign via @palihumanrightswatch on Instagram.

The group’s next campaign will focus on environmental justice: Liberman said STF is currently working on just brainstorming ideas, noting that “a lot of people want to focus on environmental racism” and climate change.

According to Pam Bruns, founder and executive director of the STFs in the greater Los Angeles area, this campaign will launch in late January.

For now, Liberman urged, “Be open to what youth advocates have to say.”

Although most STF students aren’t old enough to vote yet, they’re passionate about contributing and having their voices heard.

“What we’re fighting for right now should be uplifted by the people who do have the power to vote,” Gill stated.

Other STF members hope adults will vote with them in mind.

“If you’re below 18, you essentially don’t have a voice [in elections] … it’s just really important that people who can vote and are of the age exercise their right to vote and urge other people to exercise their right to vote,” Broome said. “They are … speaking for younger people who can’t speak for themselves and ensuring that their rights are protected.”

Wyss agreed, adding: “Voting is a right, but it’s also a responsibility. So when you have the right to vote, it’s your responsibility to be informed … If you missed this election, then make sure you’re registered for the next one.”

The bottom line, Gill concluded, “is basically just voting in the lens of human rights. That’s what we want [adults] to do … as they go about life and conversations … check out the website and check out the events we host that will be on the website or in the newsletter, just to become more informed individuals, aware of what students are fighting for as well.

“Be open to new perspectives,” she continued. “When you’re thinking about things, look at human rights rather than party, look at people rather than self-interest. As you vote, and as you go to the grocery store, and everywhere you go, think about the good of the nation and the world.”

Visit for more information. Palisadians can also stay up-to-date with the STF weekly newsletter by contacting [email protected] and indicating interest in receiving STF updates.