“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 big picture. However, with legislative passage and elections frequently decided by one person, one point, or even one fraction of a percentage, every vote counts.
Your vote is your power to effect change. It’s critically important to vote if you are able, as not everyone can vote, depending on their age, incarceration status, citizenship, or other social barriers. If you are over 18 and live somewhere where you are able to cast a vote, make sure you are registered to do so! If you’re not yet 18, you can still use your voice to make a difference, volunteer, campaign, advocate, and get involved.
Around the world, many countries limit citizen participation. Aside from monarchies and dictatorships, pseudo-democracies (governments with the existence of democratic institutions, but the reality of authoritarian rule) and kleptocracies (corrupt governments that seek personal gain) are far more common than you might think. Citizens of Russia, Belarus, Nicaragua, and the Republic of Congo, to name a few, may be given the illusion of choice, but ultimately, citizens are not sufficiently represented in government. Many people around the world do not have the opportunity to use their voice, so use yours if you are able.
Even places where citizens can vote face issues of whether they will vote. In the 2020 United States presidential election, only 66.8% of voting age citizens actually cast a ballot. Baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) continue to be the generation with the highest voter turnout at 76%. College-educated citizens are more likely to vote than those with less educational attainment. White, non-hispanic groups have the highest voter turnout of any racial group. Thus, these groups’ political opinions are repeatedly overrepresented in elections, leading to results that do not accurately reflect the desires of everyone. Not only that, but this older and mostly white demographic is less vulnerable to climate change than the next generation and BIPOC populations. So, when it comes to climate legislation and justice, we need a diverse cross section of voters to exercise their right at the ballot box.
And there’s good news! The number of Gen Z voters is growing rapidly, with more becoming eligible to vote every year. A study from Tufts University underscores the key role that young voters played in the 2020 US election, with more than half of the voting-eligible population between ages 18 and 29 casting a ballot. So let’s do it again, with even more power! The 2022 midterm elections are key in ensuring the future of the climate movement and a habitable country.
Low-income, BIPOC, and disabled communities are often intentionally disenfranchised by the government, which makes voting to change the systems that perpetuate this even more critical. State barriers like voter identification laws and purging of voter rolls make voting inaccessible for far too many people across the United States. The federal government is failing to safeguard this right, even as widely confirmed voter suppression tactics increased during the 2020 elections. Mail-in voting was necessary to ensure voter safety during the COVID-19 pandemic and remains necessary, especially for elderly or disabled voters, yet is repeatedly attacked, questioned, and hindered. States are also signing bills into law that would reduce the number of polling locations, create longer waits, deprive voters of water, and target any such actions, especially in BIPOC communities.
In addition to outright voter suppression, major current barriers to voting include:
Just as your voice matters tremendously in federal elections, it is pivotal to vote at all levels of government. Local elections can determine the police budget, community infrastructure, minimum wage, educational resources, sustainability measures, access to healthcare, and more. Your local officials are the ones on the ground who can take meaningful action for you and your community, often to a greater degree or at a swifter pace than a politician sitting on a hill hundreds of miles away. Local elected officials make decisions that directly affect your community, family, surroundings, and livelihood.
We possess and must exercise our political power by voting for the future we want and campaigning on issues that affect us! Our partners — like Acure, Klean Kanteen, and Dr. Bronner’s — all stand behind the principle that everyone, including business, can be a vehicle for change. It’s true, companies wield a great deal of political power, so choose to support those that share your values and use their practices and platforms for good. By casting ballots in elections, voting with your dollar, donating to causes, and using your voice, you can fight for what you believe is right. Be the change!
Youth voters are among the most apathetic globally. In fact, only 51.2% of this age group voted in the US 2020 presidential election. Less than half of Japan’s youth population ages 18 to 29 voted in their 2021 House of Representatives election. France saw just 13% of youth vote in their 2021 municipal elections. In the 2019 South African National Elections, only 18% of eligible youth aged 18 to 19 were even registered to vote. Despite ongoing low turnout, the youth vote matters enormously because Millenials and Gen Z (roughly ages 18 to 40) account for large voting blocs across the world. 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 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 visual and narrative incorporated and a screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, and school on your upload.
Voting directly impacts your life — and the lives 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 8, the mid-term general election will decide national, state and local representatives across the US. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 34 (of the 100) seats in the Senate will be contested, as well as countless other local, town, county, and state seats.
Learn more about current political leaders and new leaders who may be running for office.
Upload a PDF document with your visual and narrative incorporated and a screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, and school on your upload to be eligible to win.
Every election is critical for people and planet! 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 will be heard.
Our generation can change the future by registering to vote, getting out the vote, and VOTING! Let’s get mobilized.
Art is a powerful tool for activism. So today, we ask you to use music or poetry to get out the vote!
Watch March March, a video by The Chicks. With what you have learned thus far in PGC, coupled with artistic inspiration from anywhere, create a song or poem that speaks to why voting matters and what you will vote for. Choose a song that motivates you and rewrite the lyrics, compose something yourself, or write an original poem to present as spoken word. Use powerful, action-oriented words that will inspire your peers and everyone to VOTE!
Use your voice! Practice and then record it on video! Feel free to include musical instruments or background tracks too. Our team will select the top ten songs or spoken word poetry to receive 100 bonus points each!
Upload your video to Instagram and tag @TurningGreenOrg and #PGC2022, as well as any other accounts or hashtags that are relevant and/or would amplify the reach of your message. You can also post on YouTube, if you wish. Commit to vote and invite friends and followers to register to vote too!
Upload a PDF Document with your lyrics or poem and the link to the video with your song or spoken word presentation (make sure it is public), as well as a screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, and school on your upload to be eligible to win.
Up to 10 Greener and 10 Greenest outstanding submissions will be selected as winners.
Each winner will receive: