August 31, 2019
North Carolina’s David Ledbetter, 17, utilized the long lines outside Popeyes to strongly encourage people to register to vote by giving away sample ballots and registration forms.
When 17-year-old David Ledbetter saw the crowds line up for the much-hyped Popeyes chicken sandwiches, he saw an opportunity to convince his fellow Americans to practice their right to vote, and perhaps make a difference in the world.
“We were seeing how long the lines were [at Popeyes] and figured we would try to get individuals to vote,” Ledbetter told CNN. “I was just hoping that the individuals would register to vote.”
The high school senior and those with him gave out voter registration forms and sample ballots to those who waited out the local restaurant on Saturday. Although no record showed how many people they were able to talk to, the group ran out forms and sample ballots.
The idea stemmed from the teen, together with Stephanie Sneed, an attorney running for the school board in North Carolina. Both decided that the long lines can be used to make a better America through voter engagement.
“We had been talking about the great chicken sandwich debate. We came up with the idea to go to Popeyes because of the large number of people waiting in lines,” Sneed said. “Because he’s young, he has a new perspective on candidates engaging with young people.”
A FUTURE LEADER
Young as he is, Ledbetter co-founded an organization that better provides opportunities to Charlotte students a way to college. Soon, the organization, Imagine This, will be categorized as a non-profit one.
“I like engaging with the community, and I have aspirations with helping people and making society a better as a whole,” Ledbetter added.
Although he is still 17, the young leader already pre-registered to vote, which will be effective once he turns 18 in March. Small actions make significant changes, and this boy is definitely proving that statement.
“I once attended a caucus meeting in Charlotte, and I noticed the lack of young people present. I wanted to start an initiative to allow more youth to become politically involved so I thought registering people to vote and handing out information would be the best way to engage,” he said.
A SIMILAR IDEA
Singer Janelle Monae had a similar idea as the teen but broadcasted it in a tweet that criticized those willing to wait for hours to get the famed chicken but didn’t have the same “energy” to line up during elections. After receiving backlash, she apologized for the “insensitive” tweets.
"I think the tweets that I posted about registering and voting were insensitive and wrong—specifically they ignored the very real issues of voter suppression that have impacted my community for years and me directly,” she wrote.
On Tuesday, only days after Ledbetter took action, Popeyes famous chicken sandwich sold out. The fast-food chain relayed the devastating information on Twitter together with a short clip of people enjoying their dishes.
“Unfortunately, we’re sold out (for now),” they wrote.
It has only been less than a month since Popeyes released the new addition to their menu that became an instant hit among their customers, going viral on social media, including celebrities such as Jimmy Kimmel and Gayle King.