YVote is creating a cross-partisan, youth civic engagement movement through which young people channel their passions and beliefs into positive civic action, at and beyond the ballot box.
Surveys, data, and informal conversations with young people indicate that many feel powerless, disenchanted with the political process and the government, and don’t perceive voting as a meaningful form of having voice–for a number of understandable reasons but with damaging implications. In the 2016 general election, 70% of those over 70 years old voted; by contrast, only 36% of 18 and 19 year olds did. In the 2014 midterms, just 14% of 18 and 19 year olds voted. 14%. Millennials and Generation Z (youth under age 20) are the largest and most diverse generation in the U.S. yet youth are leaving power on the table.
YVote works to counteract that and help young people capitalize on their collective power. Recent events have catalyzed an enormous appetite to create change, and many youth yearn to find a way to channel their efforts to strengthen civil society and to build a more just and equitable world. Now is the time for a youth social movement, and YVote is helping spark and support it.
YVote is undertaking a new approach to civic motivation and voter registration, mobilization, and turnout. Working with racially, economically, and politically diverse youth across the five boroughs of New York City, YVote participants identify and unpack issues they’re passionate about–such as affordable housing/gentrification, school desegregation, mass incarceration–examining connections between these issues and the question of “why vote?” alongside additional ways they can make a positive difference in their communities and more broadly.
We launched YVote in the Summer of 2017 with 50 diverse and dynamic students from across over 20 public high schools and all five boroughs participating in a series of student focus groups and co-design sessions. We’ve grown each year, supporting 120 teens from across 70 high schools–online–in Summer 2020. Participants engaged in historical analysis–rooted in a case study of Freedom Summer 1964 and its implications for today–and regional analysis–rooted in exploration of why New York has the second to lowest youth voting rate (!) and what changes are needed to address that. Participants hone in on WHY voting matters today, WHO today’s voters are, WHAT motivates young voters across the political spectrum, and HOW to engage them in and beyond voting.
Participants develop and user-test an array of outreach initiatives around civic literacy and voter engagement with teens in their own schools in communities throughout the academic year. We work to galvanize a broad range of young people and youth-focused organizations in building relationships across racial, economic, religious, ethnic, regional, and political divides in the service of cross-partisan voter engagement of 18-22 year olds across the country. Please check out and share our flyer. For more in-depth information about our original aims, check out our original concept paper.
YVote aspires to help cultivate a youth civic engagement ecosystem that supports youth movement building and mobilization efforts. We are eager to engage a broad and diverse range of partners in creating an inclusive, intersectional alliance committed to supporting young people in becoming informed, engaged citizens on the front lines of change.