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The Final Countdown
How youth-led and youth-focused organizations are making the final days of the 2022 election cycle count
The final days of the 2022 election cycle are upon us and it’s all about getting 👏🏻 out 👏🏻 the 👏🏻 vote 👏🏻.
Across the country, youth-led and youth-focused organizations are making the final days count. Here’s a 👀 look 👀 at some of their weekend GOTV initiatives:
Voters of Tomorrow is building a “Gen Z War Room” of about 20 strategists in D.C. to oversee its GOTV organizing strategy.
“The War Room will serve as Voters of Tomorrow’s command center where we will have a team available to monitor and swiftly react to anything that could potentially affect young people from turning out. At the same time, we will execute our pre-planned on-the-ground efforts nationwide,” said Voters of Tomorrow spokesperson Jack Lobel.
“We will have a team of over 20 young strategists in the War Room, which means about 95% of our team, including our national staff, chapter members, and volunteers, are staying local to mobilize where it really counts,” he said in a text message.
In addition to its on the ground GOTV work, the group is running phone and text banks including a text bank for Virginia Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, a text bank with Grassroots Democrats HQ, and a phone bank with The Union, a volunteer driven coalition.
Grassroots Democrats HQ’s paid training and organizing program with the progressive youth-led Blue Future and Gen Z For Change’s Olivia Julianna on Thursday sent 7k texts and made over 9k calls to young voters to support California Democratic Rep. Josh Harder. This weekend, those organizers will be calling young voters in Nevada, the group says.
NextGen America will continue its “Our Future is Now” GOTV tour in partnership with progressive PAC MoveOn featuring Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. They rallied in Wisconsin on Friday, will be in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Saturday and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sunday.
Here’s a video NextGen posted of an early vote line on campus at UT Austin Thursday:
Sunrise has zeroed in on Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where they are focused on campuses and in communities.
In PA, Sunrise is canvassing for Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Attorney General Josh Shapiro. The PA effort will be spearheaded by high school hubs in Jenkintown and Lancaster.
In Wisconsin, the team’s on campuses (and attending tailgates) at UW Eau Claire and UW Madison, using tactics like vote-tripling to mobilize student voters.
The youth-led climate organization will also be door knocking, tabling, calling, texting and “organizing hundreds of young and working class people to ensure that their voter registration is up to date and that they have a voting plan come election day,” spokesperson Ellen Sciales said in a text message.
So far this year: Sunrise has contacted nearly 3 million voters, primarily under the age of 35, through phone calls, texts, and on the ground canvassing, the group says.
Rise will spend the weekend hosting on campus events and having one-on-one conversations with young people they’ve already reached this cycle.
“We’ve had in-depth conversations about voting with over 400,000 young people and helped over 90,000 people (100K by E-Day) make plans to vote using BallotReady’s CivicEngine. Now we’re having in-depth follow up conversations with them to make sure they know how to vote and what’s on their ballot, not just sending text spam” CEO Max Lubin said in a text.
The student and youth-led higher ed and democracy-focused nonprofit is working with BallotReady and the progressive research firm, the Analyst Institute, to study its approach. “We’re going to have rigorous evidence,” Lubin said.
Rise hired over 1,000 young people as organizers and GOTV ambassadors this cycle in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
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‘Pioneers coming to campus’
On Thursday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James rallied at Barnard College with a star-studded lineup featuring Vice President Kamala Harris and former Secretary Hillary Clinton.
With an emphasis on this weekend’s GOTV push, each of the barrier breaking women asked the audience to encourage as many of their friends as possible to vote – and to vote for Hochul, who’s in a tighter than expected race with GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin.
Kicking off the event, Columbia University College Democrats’ vice president Catherine Sawoski and lead organizer Hanna Bloomquist asked the crowd to text five friends, urging them to make a plan to vote, if they hadn’t already.
While throughout the rally there was a focus on issues such as voting rights, climate change and gun violence prevention, there was a particular emphasis on reproductive rights and healthcare access, which the Democratic women said are at stake in the New York governor’s race.
For her part, James noted the power that young people have to catalyze social change, mentioning youth movements across history from Selma, Alabama, to Tiananmen Square, to Parkland, Florida.
Hochul told the crowd that “the torch” has been passed down to the next generation of young leaders. “It’s up to us, how will we be judged by what we do in 2022?” Hochul asked.
And calling on the crowd to turn out for Democrats in 2022, Harris referenced the “historic turnout of young voters” in 2020 and said that “because you voted” there has been action on issues such as infrastructure, gun legislation, and student debt cancellation.
Though the energy from the crowd Thursday was palpable, there was an understanding that those attending the rally, hosted by Columbia University College Democrats, were likely pretty politically active and needed to encourage their less political friends to vote.
For her part, Emily Angelino, secretary for Columbia’s College Dems, said the group has been doing outreach across campus and having conversations with peers who may be skeptical of the electoral process and whether voting actually makes a difference.
“We’ve been trying to quell that a bit. We’ve been hosting general body meetings, at least for Columbia Democrats, engaging with people, trying to answer questions because I think that lack of information and that asymmetry there has really been the culprit of skepticism,” she said.
Jay Patel and Siddharth Vijay, both juniors at Columbia, spoke about the impact of having leaders like Harris, Clinton, Hochul, and James on their campus.
“It was really awesome to see these pioneers coming to this campus and just interacting with us,” said Patel, who listed “climate change, 110%” as the issue he cares about most this cycle.
Vijay, for his part, said abortion is his top issue.
“Obviously, I can’t go through those struggles, and I won’t. But I know that down the line, if I have a daughter, I need to be there to represent for her,” Vijay said. Coming off Thursday’s event, he’s going home to Washington this weekend, and plans to vote in person while there. Patel voted absentee in Texas, he said.
Youth vote in the news 🗞
The last week of the 2022 election cycle has been ripe with youth-focused headlines. Here are a few:
Why Gen-Z is (and isn’t) voting, Maya Eaglin for NBC’s Stay Tuned
How Gen Z and TikTok could influence election, Grace Conley for the BBC
Can young voters help Democrats hold Congress?, Analysis by Kumar Ramanathan and Matthew Nelsen for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage
Opinion: Democrats should not give up on young voters, Voters of Tomorrow’s Victor Shi for the Chicago Tribune
And two from me: