Strengthening Democracy: Kendall Bartling

The Nebraska U. student, who has registered more than 1,000 first-time voters and who leads get-out-the-vote efforts to ensure the state's youth have a voice, is Civic Nebraska's 2023 Young Civic Leader.


Each year, Civic Nebraska’s Strengthening Democracy Awards recognize Nebraskans who embody the spirit of a more modern and robust democracy. Among our 2022 honorees are educators, administrators, students, and everyday Nebraskans. We’ll officially honor the winners on April 13, but before then, here’s a chance to learn a bit more about what makes them special. 

Civic Nebraska honors Kendall Bartling as the 2023 Young Civic Leader in Nebraska for inspiring young people to participate in democracy. During high school, Bartling was on the Grand Island Public Schools board and became a deputy registrar so he could register young voters. He was recognized by Secretary of State Bob Evnen for his efforts.

Kendall Bartling

“Kendall Bartling is the epitome of democracy,” said nominator Tracy Overstreet, Hall County’s election commissioner. “Kendall cares deeply about helping Americans share their voice with their government and making communities stronger by ensuring all voices are heard.”

Since moving to Lincoln to attend Nebraska U., he has continued his pro-voter work. He is chair of the Husker Vote Coalition and has led the registration of more than 1,000 first-time voters in and around campus.

“Everyone who meets Kendall understands how important civic engagement is to him,” said Sarah Wagelie, an associate at Kissel, Kohout, ES Associates LLC, a former legislative staffer, and one of four Nebraskans who nominated Kendall.

“It is a joy to watch Kendall grow and flourish in pursuits that are important to him, and Nebraska is lucky to have Kendall encouraging democracy in this state. I believe he embodies the characteristics of a young civic leader and is deserving of this award.

In addition, Kendall also serves on the Lincoln Get Out the Vote Coalition and has led the establishment of a monthly Night of Listening series. Throughout the process of planning and preparing for the series this past fall, Ken went above and beyond by facilitating the panelist questions and attending planning meetings with the Coalition.

The Night of Listening featured two sessions – one focused on informing students about the steps to register to vote and the other focused on walking students through what their rights are as voters. In planning the experience Kendall attended planning meetings with Civic Nebraska, Nebraska Civic Engagement Table, OutNebraska, and Lincoln’s Asian Community and Cultural Center.

“This is highly impressive, considering he has only walked this earth for two decades,” Overstreet said.

Join us as we celebrate Kendall and his fellow Strengthening Democracy honorees on Thursday, April 13, 2023, at the Livestock Exchange Ballrooms in Omaha. Save your spot today!

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