In September, SafeKidsStories joined the historic national movement to mobilize young voters and get them to the polls. We launched Vote That Jawn #VTJ — a nonpartisan, by-youth, for-youth voting initiative with the aim of partnering with everyone we could to amplify youth voice to register all newly-eligible young Philadelphians for the 2018 election. Armed with grit, wit, and creativity, SafeKids’ #VoteThatJawn created a fun video by young animators, a rap song by young musicians, and great content by young writers to share on social media. We also put on an event at local PBS station WHYY with Philadelphia mayor Kenney, voting activists, community organizers, the City Commissioner, and featuring live music from the Franklin Learning Center’s band. United Airlines pilot Carole Hopson captained the journey, which included young people from Temple, Penn, Community College, Girls Inc., Girard College, Art Sanctuary North Stars, Central High and other public and charter schools. We feel proud to have played a part in registering 6,782 new voters in Philadelphia in 2018. That was a 136% surge over 18-year-old voter registration in mid-terms in 2014.
And what an historic election it was! Nationally, last November saw the highest level of participation among young people in a midterm in more than 25 years, with an estimated 31% of eligible voters age 18–29 casting their ballots on or before Election Day — up from 21% in 2014. While many American youth got their first taste of democratic participation on November 6 with their first vote, some ran their first political campaigns, like Kalan Haywood, who, at only 19 years old, became the youngest lawmaker in Wisconsin — and likely the nation. Across the board, young Americans proved themselves to be a powerful voting bloc, influencing historic wins across key congressional, gubernatorial and judicial races, and helping to elect the most diverse Congress in United States history.
With the 116th Congress officially gaveled in and already grappling with their first major task as they work to end the longest government shutdown in American history, we’re looking back with pride at all that Vote That Jawn accomplished, with these new reflections on the Jawn event and stories of participants casting their ballots — some for the very first time!
Got your own vote story? Have a suggestion for what Vote That Jawn should do next? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!