Youth voting campaign ‘Vote That Jawn’ shares resources to bring first-time voters to the ballot
All the lanyard-wearing folks handing us white and navy-blue voter registration forms on the street can only mean one thing: the Midterm Elections are near.
There has never been a more consequential time to vote and get your voice heard. Depending on this midterm’s outcome, the House might flip, the Republican legislative agenda could be overturned, and the current voting districts, redrawn.
But no matter the result, one thing’s for sure: this is YOUR time to be heard.
That requires you — yes, you — to get out there and not just vote, but get your peers, family, teachers, neighbors, and hairdressers to the ballot, too.
Luckily for you, there are loads of innovative, exciting, and EASY ways to get involved without even leaving your desk.
We at Vote That Jawn have compiled a list of our favorite online campaigns and platforms out there so that you can get registered, connected, and equipped to make a difference online, on campus, or in your city.
So what are you waiting for? Read on, get pumped, and get moving. Celebrities, prizes, and even the chance to meet Michelle Obama await.
Youth United for Change
Youth United for Change works to educate young Philadelphians on the social, political, and historical workings of the society in which we live. Train to be a leader who can fight for what is right! Engage in your community, make lifelong friends, and see the change you enforce in the streets around you.
A caucus made up of members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the union Working Educators believes in defending and fighting for racial justice, public education, immigration justice, contract and pensions, and electoral organizing, among other issues– all while working with and alongside students and families, and the people these issues affect. Working Educators’ “lesson plan” from now to November 6th is to get Philly youth–every eligible high school senior–to the polls. Join them in this effort, as there’s more than a few ways to get involved.
New Voters Project
Today’s young adults form the most diverse generation there has ever been. For the founders of New Voters Project, this means we are the generation that will change the status quo. This group is based in college campuses nationwide, with chapters in schools including UCLA, UC Berkeley, and University of Maryland. Partnering with student groups, they offer toolkits and volunteer training as part of a localized approach to increasing voter turnout.
Campus Compact’s Campus Election Engagement Project
Campus Compact is an organization housed in Boston, Massachusetts that “build[s] democracy through civic education and community development.” With a coalition of over 1,000 colleges, they strive to give resources to students, faculty, and staff to encourage youth to vote. They help students learn how to register to vote depending on their specific scenarios, and they help staff incorporate election activities and service into their curriculums.
Young Voter is a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization based in Las Vegas that focuses on youth empowerment and education. They target college campuses, concerts, and festivals to meet students and encourage them to register to vote. Since its humble beginnings in 2005, they’ve registered hundreds of thousands of voters and have had nearly 10,000 volunteers. Their website offers options for voter registration and volunteering, as well as information on issues and candidates — one of their many excellent resource to look through before heading to the polls.
Youth Service America’s ServiceVote Campaign
Youth Service America (YSA) empowers young people to take action, especially considering people under 25 make up half the world’s population! Join YSA to embark upon service programs funded by countless grants to make an impact in your community. Win awards and instantly create a family amongst young people like you!
Listen and Be Heard
In the summer of 1998, a coalition of youth initiatives based in California’s San Gabriel Valley came together to address a systemic problem: political apathy and low voter turnout amongst young citizens. Months later, 25–30 high school students gathered at Monterey Park’s city hall and established the “SAVE” programs which involved forming civic engagement clubs on their high school campuses. The Arsalyn Program grew out of the SAVE program in 2002, and has continued to cultivate civic engagement activities of high schools throughout southern California.
Through supporting peer-to-peer voter registration efforts, Inspire U.S. is empowering high school students across the United States to take action in improving their communities by registering to vote. But rather than just stopping at registration, Inspire U.S. is also dedicated to inspiring a new generation of active voter participants. By encouraging young Americans, just like you, to initiate conversations with those that have differing opinions and emboldening them to interact with elected officials, Inspire U.S. is working to transform the youth into future leaders.
Founded by billionaire and environmentalist Tom Steyer, NextGen has been successful in registering over a million voters across the United States, while motivating individuals to take action to address key issues, such as climate change and immigrant rights. Now, in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, NextGen seeks to energize and mobilize youth voters, in hopes of ushering in a new wave of blue in the 2018 midterm elections. By focusing on youth voters, NextGen is working to ensure that the next generation has the tools to incite change.
Work alongside stars
When We All Vote
Believing that voting is a “sacred responsibility”, former First Lady Michelle Obama started When We All Vote, a non-profit dedicated to empowering eligible voters to step up to the ballot. Partnering with celebrities including Janelle Monáe and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the organization trains volunteers to hold voter registration events in their cities, with Michelle attending many of them in person. They’re active on social media athttps://www.instagram.com/whenweallvote/ and under the hashtag #WhenWeAllVote.
Get in the know
Based out of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, CIRCLE is a leading source of authoritative research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans. The program focuses on young people in the United States — especially those who are marginalized or disadvantaged in political life — and works with youth-serving organizations to both assess the political impact of their programming and promotes policy and infrastructure that supports youth engagement.
Youth First wants you to know that elections matter, youth incarceration is unjust and happening at a startling number, and that these two facts are contingent on each other. Their initiative provides research on this issue, offers resources to speak out about this issue, and informs about the campaigns working to end youth incarceration. Something else they want you to know? “Your vote is your voice”. Vote to end youth incarceration.
LA Youth Vote
Arts for LA is an organization dedicated to address the region’s most pressing arts issues. However, they’ve also taken voting under their wing. Specifically, they have been galvanizing the youth vote in the LA area. Last year, they got 3,000 high school students to register to vote amongst LAUSD high schools. Through kick off events and “high school voter education weeks”, this organization is getting LA youth to vote!
Kids Voting USA
Kids Voting USA is a nonpartisan, grassroots-driven voter education program that aims to increase greater voter turnout by encouraging voting habits in children and families. Founded in Arizona in 1988, they focus on school curriculum, mock elections, engaging families, local Affiliates, and continuing research. Their Affiliates are ambassadors that offer local schools the assistance they need to encourage voting habits. On their website, they offer a wealth of resources for students and educators alike.
Now that you’ve got the resources, GO, GO, GO!
Midterms are near and this time, our voices will be heard.
This listicle was originally published by Anna Duan and compiled by Lorene Cary’s Fall 2018 creative writing class.
Anna Duan is a freshman at Penn majoring in urban studies. She blogs about cities and architecture and writes in Penn’s food magazine, Penn Appetit. Anna has lived in Maryland and Shenzhen, China, where she worked with the Shenzhen Museum on translating their archives into English. Away from her desk, she enjoys hiking, weightlifting, sharp cheddar, and getting lost in cities.