Op-ed | Vote That Jawn

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

By Lorene Cary

This article was originally published as an op-ed in Metro Philadelphia. You can see the original story here.

“…we still have a shot/And this choice/Is our voice.”

—”Choosing Day” by Cydney Brown, Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate

In January, a handful of young organizers perched in my office in the English Department at the University of Penn planning the 2020 reboot of #VoteThatJawn. As a pop-up initiative in 2018, #VoteThatJawn had shown us the potential of regular, not celebrity, young people to bring their age-mates to the polls. We were a very small group, local and organic. My aim was to create a structure that would allow more young people to use their creativity to bring peers to the polls. Writing students in my class would again form the core and reach out to others across the city. The social media engagement was fairy dust to sprinkle cool and fun, non-partisan information into young people’s social media feeds. With seed money from the university, we could re-up our website, artists, young animators. If hate groups and Russian bots could talk to young people, well, hey, so could we!

But how many, we asked ourselves, how many newly registered youth would constitute success? The numbers of 18-year olds who’d registered in 2018 had more than doubled over the preceding mid-term to nearly 7,000.