Countdown for Students and Teachers to VTJ
Organize, Strategize, Socialize, Share and Compare!
It’s time to Vote That Jawn: How to get YOU and your friends to the polls.
It’s finally Friday, and Vote that Jawn is less than 24 hours away! The VTJ team wants to share some real life stories of teachers and youth who have made moves in their communities and mobilized others to vote.
It’s possible, and you can do it too! Many of the ideas in this list come from you, like collaborating with local voting registration dynamo and Philly public school teacher Thomas Quinn.
In the meantime, we’ll be right here, archiving your success stories and posting material that you can use to share with your first-time voting recruits.
Strategies for Students:
Jay Falk, now a freshman at Penn, led a voter registration drive in VA following school shootings, at T.C. Williams, in Virginia. She went around to classes in different schools and provided voter registration sheets. She shares some tips about how best to organize these kinds of events in your community here.
Robin Peterson got 85% of the senior class at her school to vote. She offered to research candidates for peers and present nonpartisan views. She also got people informed and encouraged them to vote. She ended up winning the Secretary of State Colorado award for her work. You can read her story here.
Lila Jordan, from Colorado, organized a youth forum centered on voting in her town. At the forum, visiting speakers and other students answered questions about voting and democracy and connected forum attendees to opportunities to become more civically engaged.
Do you drive? Make voting a social outing. Organize a carpool and take your friends with you on election day.
Don’t have a car? Lyft is giving a discount on voting day — 50% off promo codes across the country. For specific, underserved communities, Lyft will provide FREE transportation through nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations like Voto Latino, local affiliates of the Urban League, and the National Federation of the Blind!
During lunch break, put voter registration forms in the cafeteria at your table.
Peyton Jernigan was a student at Yorktown HS in Virginia. Jernigan single-handedly made 300+ calls to rally people to vote, and registered many of them. Why don’t you pick up the phone, call people you know, and talk to them about voting?
Work with your school to arrange for a nonpartisan voting and elections assembly or class visit by the City Commissioners, SEAMAAC, or State Representative Chris Rabb.
Are you a member of a cultural/affinity group, club, or sports team? Organize an outing to register to vote, or go to the polls together!
Youth United for Change did a great summer VOTA! campaign and are revving up for this school year.
The League of Women Voters is organizing voter registration assemblies. Check their website for more information.
Strategies for Teachers:
A story from our own backyard: Thomas Quinn, who is a participating Philly teacher in VTJ, aspires to register every eligible high schooler in our city. He made a Philadelphia-specific guide to help teachers register their students. You can find it here. Thomas has a couple of suggestion himself, and we’ve added many of them to this list:
Download and print Pledge Cards! Asking first-time voters to pledge significantly increases the chances that they will turn out to the polls!
Student Voter Registration Team Members: Get students to ask peers what issues they care about and listen. Then connect the issues to the importance of voting. We’re creating lifelong habits here!
Student Teams: Collect voter cell phone numbers! Another proven GOTV tactic that works especially well with teens is to send personal reminder texts on election day. This is particularly effective if sent by the same peers that collected their pledge cards, because they feel personally accountable. Record voter cell phone numbers on this Student Spreadsheet.
Help students make a plan to vote: At Find Their Voters’ Polling Places they can just type in their address and their polling place should pop right up. Ask them to tell what time they’ll go, how they’ll get there, and what form of ID they’ll remember to bring. Having a plan is yet another proven GOTV tactic.
Since students will be given the option of choosing a party when they register, a good way to start a class discussion is to have students complete the I Side With quiz. It’s also good to make sure they understand that choosing “Non affiliated” or “Other” means that they cannot vote for party candidates in PA’s closed primary.
Free goodies, like extra-credit for classwork, or cookies for bringing in their voter registrations.
Work with your school to organize buses or shuttles to get students to voting centers after school.
Colorado is on fire! Josh Benson a high school teacher at Peak to Peak Charter School in Colorado, has managed to register 85% of the senior class to vote two years in a row.
These stories and strategies inspire us, and we hope they’ll inspire you as you begin your jawn journey.