“The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy.”
– John Lewis, American Statesman and Civil Rights Icon
There’s a common misconception that a single voice or vote doesn’t count in the bigger picture. Yet, with legislative votes and elections frequently decided by one person, one point or even one fraction of a percent, it is abundantly clear that every single vote DOES count. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise! Your vote is your power to effect change.
In the 2016 US presidential election, only 55% of voting age citizens actually cast a ballot. Baby Boomers continue to be the generation with the highest voter turnout, meaning their political opinions are overrepresented and election results do not accurately reflect the desires of everyone, specifically us: students, Gen Z, millennials and the rising generation. The solution can be quite simple: if more people vote, election results will more closely represent the desires of the overall population, and those of us who have to live with the consequences for decades to come.
And there’s good news! Over four million students in the US have turned 18 since the 2018 midterm elections, meaning that in the upcoming November 2020 presidential election, four million more votes can be cast that better represent us. A recent study from Tufts University underscores the key role that young voters played in the 2018 midterm elections and our potential to shape the election again in 2020. Another reason to encourage everyone to GOTV (get out the vote)!
Unfortunately, voter suppression is all too real in our country today. State barriers like voter ID laws and purging of voter rolls make voting inaccessible for too many across the United States, and the federal government is further hindering that constitutional right, when it is supposed to safeguard it.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, mail-in voting is necessary to ensure voter safety, but the current administration has repeatedly attacked mail-in voting and questioned its validity. Furthermore, the United States Postal Service, the entity responsible for collecting ballots, has faced billions in funding losses, organizational changes that delay delivery and the removal of many mailboxes nationwide. These and other factors threatening access to the vote and sacred democratic process are part of systemic voter suppression tactics, which disproportionately affect communities of color, further silencing and disenfranchising the most marginalized voices. We need everyone of every background to VOTE and be counted in every election!
In addition to outright voter suppression, major current barriers to voting include:
1) Candidate outreach. Young people, like all demographics, are more likely to vote if contacted directly by a campaign or candidate, yet youth-focused efforts are often lacking.
2) Registration. You cannot vote if you aren’t registered. The process is generally quite simple, yet many young people don’t even know where to begin. In some states, you have to register ahead of time to be eligible at the polls. Be sure to check your registration in advance of the election. For the full picture and wide-ranging resources, visit VoteSaveAmerica.com.
3) Apathy. With countless issues and information overload, it makes sense that young people can feel overwhelmed or not have any idea where to begin. While voting for ‘imperfect’ candidates may not seem like the best way to effect change, it is a critical step toward any goal — big or small, local or global, now or into the future.
Just as your voice matters tremendously in the presidential election, it is powerful in other national and local elections. Every level of government makes decisions that directly affect your everyday life, family and livelihood — from schools to potholes, housing to the pandemic response, jobs to marriage, clean air to free speech, everything.
COVID-19 impacted primary elections this year and will undoubtedly affect the general election, in which people are already voting early or by mail, leading up to Election Day on November 3. Too many voters have been forced to choose between the right to vote and personal safety, as access to vote-by-mail or absentee ballots is far from universal, varying state by state.
We possess political power and must exercise that by voting for the future we want and campaigning on issues that affect our generation and us all! As VotePlus10 says, “We are thrilled to engage and empower young American’s to take simple actions on the issues they care about most, like sustainability, climate change, and social justice. We hope every young American joins us to amplify our voices together!”
If you’re old enough to vote, VOTE. And remember that you can volunteer, campaign and advocate for others to register and vote, even if you are not yet 18!
US citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 comprise the lowest voting rate of the eligible population. In fact, only 49% of the 20.4 million college students voted in the last general election. Despite low turnout, the student vote matters enormously because Millenials and Gen Z (roughly ages 18 to 35) account for 40% of the voting population in the USA. Young people are most affected by changes in climate, economic and social policy, represent the most diverse age group, and have the most ability to swing election outcomes.
As you learned above, registration is a major barrier to voting, in places where required. In this challenge, you will register to vote (or check your registration!), learn who and what is on your ballot, and make a voting plan — if you vote in the US. If not, read below for other specific action steps! There is no excuse for apathy or sitting on the sidelines when it comes to voting; too much is at stake from our rights to our planet to our very lives!
Upload a PDF Document with your responses, screenshot of your social media post, and a screenshot of your registration (feel free to block out or crop any personal information, but these will be kept entirely confidential and not shared). Include your name (or team name), username, email address and school.
Voting directly impacts your life — and that of who and what you love. Do you know which candidates align with the issues you feel strongly about? Who will advocate for the policy change you want to see enacted?
On Tuesday, November 3, the general election will decide national, state and local representatives across the US. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 (of the 100) seats in the Senate will be contested, as well as countless seats in every state.
Articulate your position on each and why these issues matter to you.
Learn more about your current political leaders and new leaders who may be running for office.
Share your position on each and why these issues matter to you.
Upload a PDF Document with your responses. Please include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
This year is a critical election for our environment and climate action! Anyone of any age can have an impact on who votes and how. Today, we want YOU to move people to the polls, so more voices can be heard and needs met.
Our generation can change the future of our planet by registering to vote, getting out the vote, and VOTING!
Let’s get mobilized!
Start with today’s video for inspiration. Art is a powerful tool for activism. So today, we are asking you to use music as your artform and help get out the vote!
Watch March March, a video by The Chicks. With what you have learned thus far in PGC, coupled with your artistic spirits, create a song that speaks to why you are voting and what you are voting for. Chose a song whose music motivates you and rewrite the lyrics – powerful, mobilizing words that will inspire your peers and everyone who hears it to VOTE!
Next, gather friends socially distanced (of course) or on a video call to sing what you have written. Feel free to include musical instruments too. Practice first and then record it! Use your voices for change!
Upload your song to Instagram or YouTube (and then link to a social media post) with a caption about how to register to vote on VotePlus10.org. And tag @TurningGreenOrg, @VotePlus10 and #PGC2020.
Commit to vote and use the Vote Plus 10 platform to instantly invite your friends to register to vote, too!
Turning Green will post and share the most impactful pieces and share with partners to help mobilize the masses! Top ten songs will get 100 bonus points each!
Upload a PDF Document with your responses and creative work. Include a screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, email address and school.
Up to 10 Greener and 10 Greenest outstanding submissions will be selected as winners.
Each Greener Winner will receive:
Each Greenest Winner will receive: