September 22, 2020
CCC Youth Advocates Launch #Vote4YouthVoices Campaign Ahead of 2020 Elections
CCC’s YouthAction Members have been working on a project to increase youth voter turnout in the 2020 elections. They started back in May, when they polled over 500 of their peers from across the city to get a sense of what issues young people are worried about and which of those issues influence who they support or oppose in elections. They published their findings in a voter education guide and created an accompanying Get Out the Vote Toolkit to spark conversation, energize, and mobilize young people and their allies to get out and vote in the interest of young people this November. Listen to their conversation to learn more about the #Vote4YouthVoices campaign.
Alexandra: Hello, CCC Community! As we live through the coronavirus pandemic, we are meeting virtually to speak about one of the most important responsibilities of citizens: Voting! My name is Alexandra Tiger, and I am a junior at Millennium High School and a YouthAction Member at the CCC. I’m here with some of the other members, who have been doing great work on youth voter education and mobilization ahead of the upcoming election. Can you all introduce yourselves?
Aiden: Thank you, Alexandra! We’re excited to help spread the word about the importance of getting out the vote in 2020, particularly among 18 – 24 years, who historically have very low voter turnout. My name is Aidan Hatzimemos. I live in Manhattan and am a junior at the Lab school for Collaborative studies.
Craig: My name is Craig Chen. I live in Brooklyn and I am a sophomore at Stuyvesant Highschool.
Kristian: Hello, everyone. My name is Kristian Suh. I live in Bergen County, NJ, and I am a junior at the United Nations International School in New York City.
Alexandra: So, before I ask specific questions about the logistics of preregistration and voting, can you all explain the importance of voting from your personal perspective?
Kristian: By voting, you are keeping democracy alive. You are doing a service not only for yourself but for your community. You are making sure that you’re heard and represented. These days, we know it is hard, dealing with a global health crisis, economic insecurity, and much more, which is precisely why your vote matters.
Craig: The vote is a form of expression in America that our founding fathers fought to have. You should vote for your own interests because if you won’t vote for your own interests no one else will.
Alexandra: Can you tell us a little about your campaign, #Vote4YouthVoices?
Aiden: We did a lot of work with NYC Votes and Community Votes over the last year – both great organizations working to increase voting rates. Through these partnerships, we learned that young voters in New York City turned out for the last Mayoral election at a rate of only 13.5%.
Craig: Something that is hopeful though, is that among 18- to 29-year-olds nationally, voter turnout went from 20 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2018 — a 79 percent jump! So we think now is the time to keep the momentum going. This is why we decided to create a voter guide for young New Yorkers to mobilize and energize them to get out and vote.
Kristian: For our guide, we wanted to let young people know how they can register and pre-register to vote, and how they can vote in the upcoming election, but we also wanted to educate New Yorkers about the issues that youth in the city care about. So we created a public opinion poll and were able to poll over 500 youth from all 5 boroughs about issues like racism, climate change, gun control, health care and more.
Aidan: Our guide is launching TODAY! And you can find the link to access the FREE #Vote4YouthVoices Voter Education guide located right below this video!
Alexandra: I love how our guide came out! I think everyone should check it out. So, let’s start with basics. Who can vote and how can we register?
Kristian: To register to vote you must be a citizen of the United States and live in the state and county you plan to vote in for at least 30 days before election day. There are some restrictions on voting for people with felony convictions.
Craig: You must be at least 18 years old to vote in the 2020 Presidential election. However, New York recently passed a law that 16 and 17 year olds can pre-register, so that when you turn 18 you will automatically receive your voter registration card without having to register again. It gives young people something to look forward to as they wait patiently to exercise their right to vote!
Aiden: There are several ways people can register. Something VERY easy to do is to go to register2vote.org (with the number 2). That’s register2vote.org. This site will walk you through the process and mail you an already filled-out registration form in a pre-stamped envelope. You just have sign it and mail it back!
Kristian: You can also download a registration form and mail it back to yourself, or bring it to a voter registration center to drop it off in person. More information on how to register can be found in our #Vote4YouthVoices Voter Education Guide for Young People and Their Allies.
Aiden: Remember! Every eligible citizen of the United States should be registered to vote for the 2020 election, especially young people 16 and up!
The deadline to register in New York is October 9th.
Alexandra: OK, so if a person is all registered and ready to vote, how can they vote? What if a person doesn’t want to go to a polling site due to concerns over covid-19?
Craig: This year, anyone can request an absentee ballot due to covid-19 concerns. Simply go to nycabsentee.com by October 27th to request a ballot. You will receive your ballot in the mail and MUST mail it back by November 3rd.
Kristian: If you prefer to vote in person, but want to avoid the crowds, New York now has early voting! You can vote starting on Saturday October 24th through Sunday November 1st. You can look up your early voting polling place online. We have more detailed instructions on this in our Youth Voices Voter Education Guide.
Aiden: And if you procrastinated on all of the above, be safe on Election Day – November 3rd! Polling places may be crowded, so wear a mask and bring something to keep yourself busy if you have to stand in line. And don’t forget to thank your poll workers, who will guide you through the steps of voting in person while you are there.
Alexandra: Wow that is all such great information. I really hope everyone listening to you all takes it seriously. We want everyone to register to vote soon, request that absentee ballot if they want to vote by mail, and please DON’T FORGET TO CAST YOUR BALLOT! Now, I want to ask how voting impacts you and your family personally…
Aiden: For me personally, voting has always been important to me and my family. All 4 of my grandparents are immigrants from places where voting was either not an option or wasn’t easy. For me voting is a duty and privilege and one that should be exercised. I owe it to my family to encourage others to vote as well.
Craig: Voting has always been important to my family as well and we believe that more people should vote and become active in government. Many people do not vote and therefore aren’t represented in government. Not only do they find themselves only dreaming for what they wish to happen, others who do care and vote won’t find the support they need to create change.
Alexandra: What have you done for Get out the Vote?
Kristian: In the past, so many Get Out the Vote Activities happened in person. Especially for youth. Every spring, NYC high school students could register or pre-register to vote during Civics Week. On election day, you always see people outside encouraging and reminding other people to vote. Our group didn’t feel comfortable doing in person Get Out the Vote activities this year, so we took another approach.
Craig: First, we felt like young people are more likely to care about voting and civics when we talk about ISSUES, as opposed to just telling them that it is their duty to vote. So we felt like we wanted to engage young people in a project that focuses on ISSUES as well as the nuts and bolts of voting. So, we decided to create a Voter Education Guide that would do these 2 things, designed with young people in mind.
Aiden: The majority of the Voter Education Guide discusses our findings from a public opinion poll we administered to over 500 NYC youth this past spring. The idea is that we think it is important for New Yorkers to have a sense of what young people, who may or may not be eligible to vote, care about. What issues do they worry about? What factors influence their decisions on what political candidates to support or oppose?
strong>Kristian: We are encouraging people to vote in the interests of young people, who are the future! We are hoping this publication will energize young people and their allies, and readers can also find all the information they need to cast their ballot right in the guide as well.
Alexandra: So what can people to do support the #Vote4YouthVoices campaign to increase youth voter turnout?
Aiden: So glad you asked! We created a toolkit for people who are interested in joining our #Vote4YouthVoices campaign. It has instructions for how to share the Youth Voices Voter Education Guide, social media content for Instagram created by the Once Future design firm, and a template Text-Out-Count to friends and loved ones.
Craig: You can find a link to the toolkit right here in the description of this Video Blog, so go get it now!
Kristian: And don’t forget to share the toolkit and the Voter Guide with everyone you know! Alexandra: Well, thank you so much for all of this great information! I know everyone watching will download the guide and the toolkit right now!