She’s a Legacy in Action, Helping 100s with Voter Registration

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Anna Claire Tilley was on track to earn her Gold Award —  the highest honor for a Girl Scout — during one of the most influential presidential elections of her time. When she noticed how difficult it was for people in her community to vote, she decided to do something about it. Tilley then chose to focus her Gold Award project around helping citizens register to vote and gain access to the polls. 

Where the Idea Bloomed

“My sister turned 18 around the time I was brainstorming what to do for my Gold Award,” Tilley tells CircleAround. “She had the worst experience attempting to register to vote at the DMV because of misunderstandings about the Arkansas voting system. If it weren’t for our parents’ persistent pleas for her to be a registered and active voter, she would not have followed through with registration.” 

Tilley decided to help young people like her sister register to vote. To accomplish this, she created a series of voter registration booths for eligible high school seniors. Through this process, she registered about 50 high school seniors to vote before the 2020 presidential election. She also worked hard to raise awareness for eligible adults as well, helping 75 community members achieve voting status. 

Reforming Voter Registration Laws in Arkansas

While Tilley was satisfied with these results, she knew she needed to appeal to local representatives and political organizations. She wanted to work toward reforming voter registration laws in Arkansas, including online voter registration. “As a high school Girl Scout, I had to learn how to stand up for myself and my cause in a room of politicians in order to be seen as something other than a photo opportunity,” she explains. “I had to learn how to navigate political agendas that were much larger than me in order to keep the legislation bipartisan.”

Tilley made an appeal for more support for online voter registration, and this resulted in a bill that was submitted to the Arkansas legislation. “The biggest rewards of this project were getting everyday people a step further to political participation,” she tells CircleAround. “All of the challenges of my Gold Award were worth it when I received pictures and texts from my close friends of them casting their very first votes, friends that I helped register to vote.”

The experience also showed Tilley, who was impacted most by barriers to voting. “A person’s access to voter registration is often reflective of their socioeconomic status,” she says. “People with better and more access to education, jobs, or housing, are more likely to vote because there are less barriers for them to cast their vote.”

Today, Tilley is an urban studies major at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. She plans to continue strategizing how to empower her community and make legislative reforms. “Reflecting on the 110th anniversary of Girl Scouts, my thoughts turn to the Girl Scout Law,” Tilley tells CircleAround. “Many organizations and ideals have come and gone over the past century. The strong morals of Girl Scouting have not only stood the tests of time, but changed the course of history.” 

“Girl Scouts were at the forefront of some of the most important events in American history because of the strong values of the Girl Scout Law,” she continues. “For over a century, Girl Scouts has been instilling girls with courage, confidence, and character. This is reflected in the countless accomplishments made by Girl Scout alum.” 

The Bottom Line 

The Girl Scouts organization has helped thousands gain skills needed for amazing career opportunities. Tilley is proud to be a part of this organization, and she’s especially proud of the work she’s done to help people register to vote. 

Read more about the trailblazing women who dared to make changes in their communities

Tags: Girl Scout, Gold Award Girl Scout, right to vote

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

CircleAround is owned by One GS Media, a subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA, and we make financial distributions to benefit the next generation of Girl Scouts. We strive to make the world a better place by supporting each other today and emboldening the women leaders of tomorrow.

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