Junior founds RegistHer to encourage women to vote

Elise Burger spent her summer paycheck on trademarking RegistHer and launching the nonprofit organization. (Sinead Chang | Daily Trojan)

RegistHer is a new nonprofit organization founded at USC to increase voter registration among female college students, with an emphasis on those in sororities.

Now a week before the midterm elections, several hundred more students are registered to vote through RegistHer’s efforts, according to founder Elise Burger.

The nonpartisan organization implemented a competition among USC sororities in early October to encourage members to register to vote.

The efforts yielded around 200 registrations.

“A lot of young people don’t vote because it doesn’t feel like something that’s even really your right [since you’re just coming of age], and it’s not something you’re encouraged to do,” Burger said. “Maybe this will lead to more discussion.”

The idea came to Burger, a junior majoring in communication, in late September, around the time of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. Within days, Burger created RegistHer, and spent her summer paycheck on trademarking the name. She then created social media accounts and a website for the organization.

A member of the Alpha Phi Sorority, Burger said that sororities presented a perfect outlet to increase political participation. According to Burger, sororities are a viable place to start with since these communities are an easy way to find a large group of women in the same place.

“To get a group of young women, who have these ideals about sisterhood and about including women and about bettering each other … that’s the kind of group that I need to make sure [is] voting,” Burger said.

Burger hopes that her competition will lead to more political involvement. She said under RegistHer, each house competes against each other to get the highest percentage of their members to vote. The USC Panhellenic Council is still compiling results, but a winner and prize will be announced near Nov. 6.

The USC Panhellenic Council was excited about the idea, according to Alpha Phi’s junior delegate Nicole Klein. Originally, the sororities were only going to participate in VoteSC, a competition between USC and UCLA to see which school can register the most voters. However, the council was interested in Burger’s more focused approach.

Klein said she had never seen something like RegistHer before, and sees the council continuing to use the competition in the future.

“Everyone was super happy to get involved and talk to their friends about it,” she said.

Two weeks ago, motivote, a platform looking to increase voter turnout, partnered with RegistHer for the midterms and future elections.

“Motivote does the actual encouraging young individuals to vote. They kind of take over step two of this process,” Burger said. “We got to connect and we decided we were going to collaborate for the 2018 midterms.”

While motivote focuses on getting registered voters to the polls, the groups’ premises are similar — focusing on positive peer pressure to encourage young people to be politically involved.

“The fact that RegistHer was already thinking in a very similar way [about how] we can get a lot of young people to take the step of registering to vote by making it [into] a competition is really aligned to what we’re doing,” said Jess Riegel, co-founder and CEO of motivote.

Motivote has been assisting Burger with reaching out to local businesses and companies in the South Los Angeles area to help contribute, as well as how to reach out to other student group leaders, Riegel said.

While the partnership is currently in its trial phase, Burger wants to continue to work with Motivote in the future. She also hopes to expand RegistHer to other states and colleges across the country.

“I think that if we get enough traction for this year’s election, that by 2020 we’ll be able to make a really big difference,” Burger said.