Wednesday Wisdom: Elections Happen Year-Round

Elections happen every year and year round. No one knows this better than our network as they hustle to educate and turn out young voters for Spring elections. Here’s the latest from the Alliance:

With early voting in full swing, MOVE Texas is hustling nonstop to turn out young Texans for the May 4th municipal election in San Antonio and Dallas. Last Friday they launched an easy-to-read Voter Guide covering candidates’ stances on issues young people care about. MOVE’s teams are calling, texting, and knocking on doors to inform and engage voters. And on top of that, last night MOVE hosted MOVEopoly – a life-sized monopoly board game to teach young people about city elections. Organizers are also hosting eight (yes EIGHT) Parties at the Polls in both cities during early voting to drive turn-out.

Portland Public Schools, the largest school district in the state of Oregon, will have its school board election on May 21st and the Bus Project is working hard to get out the youth vote. They recently hosted a candidate forum where students raised questions about mental health support, student and community participation in decision making, and police officers in schools. The Bus is also making phone calls to energize voters and remind community members that each and every election is important.

Engage Miami is registering voters, knocking on doors and distributing voter guides in Sweetwater and North Miami ahead of the May elections. A few weeks ago, Engage hosted a candidate forum in Sweetwater where college students make up one-fourth of the population! On top of all of this, Engage is building up a brand new chapter system rooted in neighborhood-focused community organizing to reach more young people where they’re at. Engage Miami is energizing young people on and off college campuses to drive record turnout and ensure elected officials are responsive to the issues they care about most.

Pennsylvania Student Power Network is hustling to get out the vote in four counties across the state ahead of theJudicial Elections on May 21st. Along with members of the Judge Accountability Table, Pennsylvania Student Power held a candidate forum in Philadelphia County where judicial candidates answered questions about ending cash bail, getting youth out of adult prisons, and decriminalizing sex work. The name of the forum? “Judge the Judges!” Organizers will be cohosting another candidate forum in Delaware County on May 2nd and plan to distribute voter guides in both Philadelphia and Delaware County.

Shout out to these Alliance organizations who are energizing young voters to come out to the polls for each and every election to make their voices heard. Stay tuned for more local organizing updates!

Georgia On Our Minds

The Alliance for Youth Action is dedicated to building a large and diverse network of locally powered, youth-led organizations. We are proud to announce that our network just got a little bit bigger.

Join us in welcoming the newest affiliate at the Alliance for Youth Action – Georgia Shift!

Hailing from the beloved city of Augusta, Georgia Shift has grown to become a state leader in building young people’s political power. Their founder and Executive Director, Ian Bridgeforth, started Georgia Shift back in 2015. Since then, their staff of 5 have paved the way for youth organizing in rural communities and communities of color.

In 2018, their team sent 25,000 text messages, knocked on 10,000 doors, and distributed 10,000 voter guides. This non-stop work to engage and mobilize young voters contributed to a 379% increase in youth voter turnout during early voting in August-Richmond County this year. From powering the youth vote to fighting for affordable college, Georgia Shift is truly an organization building a better community for young people throughout Augusta.

Stay up to date on all the incredible work this team is leading to engage young people in Augusta on Facebook, Twitter, and Insta. You can give them a warm welcome by making a contribution to their work today.

Welcome to the family, Georgia Shift!

With excitement,

The Alliance Team

Election Day Victories from the Alliance Network

Wow! This has been an incredible election cycle. Young people led record breaking change across the country. In fact, according to exit poll analysis just released by CIRCLE, there was a ten point increase in youth turnout from 2014 to 2018. 31% of young people voted this election! And the organizations in our network – dedicated to building young, local, grassroots power- were the fire behind so much of that change. Here are some exciting updates from a few of our crews:

In Wisconsin, Leaders Igniting Transformation, an organization that is only ten months old, has contributed to rebuilding the progressive infrastructure in their state in a big way. This year they were able to knock 30,000 GOTV doors and send 50,000 GOTV texts! Statewide, 35% of young people turned out and booted Scott Walker and in LIT’s backyard, the Milwaukee City Council will be majority people of color for the first time ever. All of LIT’s hard work helped make these victories possible.

Forward Montana worked tirelessly to engage young people up and down the ballot. Exit poll data shows that young people supported Senator Jon Tester by a 40-point margin, and we just found out that he won re-election. But that’s not all, Forward Montana helped get the 6-Mill Levy over the finish line to keep public investment in higher education. For Forward Montana, their election work continues as there are local undecided races that they are keeping an eye on.

Colorado elected the nation’s first openly gay Governor (Jared Polis), flipped a Congressional House seat, and flipped the state Senate – all victories that New Era Colorado helped realize. In 2010, just four years after New Era was founded, 18-24 year old turnout was 24%. This year, it was 45%. And last night, New Era alumni were elected to Boulder County Clerk (Molly Fitzpatrick),the Colorado state House (Leslie Herod was re-elected), and CONGRESS (Joe Neguse)!

Down in Florida, Engage Miami contributed to the Amendment 4 victory, which will restore the right to vote to 1.5 million Floridians. Their Miami Dade turf saw a 15% increase in turnout from 2014 and two U.S. House seats were flipped (FL-26 and FL-27). Engage registered 1,684 voters at Florida International University (FIU) in FL-26, and helped turn out more than 7,704 voters during early vote. The district was won by 4,079 votes.

In Chicago, the team at Chicago Votes worked to mobilize the generation, resulting in young Chicagoans outperforming all other generations on Election Day for the first. time. ever. And the Chicago Votes crew worked in partnership with other local organizations to win a measure to add a free mental health clinic to one of their target neighborhoods!

Finally,  in Texas, we’re celebrating truly incredible increases in youth turnout. We’re talking an over 500% turnout increase during early vote and promising early signals based on exit poll data. MOVE Texas has been a key player in developing that statewide infrastructure – and our team was honored to organize alongside them during GOTV to witness their impact across San Antonio.

These are just a few of the incredible victories that our network contributed to. We’ll be rolling out more victories as folks have a chance to comb through their data and most importantly – rest.

What’s next? Flexing the power that was built throughout this cycle. For our network, voting is just one of the tools we use to fight for change. We will continue to organize on the issues young people in their communities care about at the local, state, and federal level. And the election hustle doesn’t stop – we’ve got our eyes on local races coming up in the Spring.

More to come!

Alliance AVR Fact-Sheet Covered in HuffPost

One State Shows Just How Easy It Is To Get More Americans To Vote

It’s called automatic voter registration, and it won’t destroy democracy.

By Sam Levine

In early 2016, Oregon was the first state to implement a system in which eligible residents are automatically registered to vote when they have any significant interaction with the motor vehicles department. People have to opt out if they don’t want to register.

Following the change, Oregon saw some major gains in underrepresented communities, according to the Alliance for Youth Action’s report. Turnout among voters ages 18 to 29 increased by 20 percentage points, from 37 percent in 2012 to 57 percent in 2016. Registration among voters of color increased by 26 points, from 53 percent in 2012 to 79 percent in 2016.

The Alliance for Youth Action is an advocacy group that supports automatic voter registration generally and Oregon’s law specifically.

The specific increases in turnout among youth and registration among people of color in Oregon were the biggest among the 40 states that make their data publicly available, the report says. The increases in youth registration outpaced Oregon’s population growth in that demographic.

Sarah Audelo, executive director of the Alliance for Youth Action, noted that the campaign to pass Oregon’s law in 2015 was led by young organizers and said even her group was surprised by the size of the increases in turnout and registration.

“Access to the ballot matters. As a country we should be taking a hard look at ourselves to see what are we doing to make sure that our people are able to vote, that they’re able to participate in our democracy,” Audelo told HuffPost. “We absolutely are fighting back hard against efforts to restrict access to the ballot, but oh my gosh, look what happens when we make it easier for people to participate.”

survey by the Black Youth Project found that in late 2012, the most-common reason young Americans gave for not voting was that they were not registered. Nationally, just 45 percent of eligible voters under 29 voted in 2012, compared to 66 percent of eligible voters 30 and older, according to the Alliance for Youth Action report.

“Oregon shows us that AVR [automatic voter registration] can be the great equalizer ― and help build a robust electorate that mirrors this country’s make-up,” said Allegra Chapman, director of voting and elections at Common Cause. “The state already had one of the highest turnout rates in the country, and now it’s building an ever stronger voter base. This is definitely the direction in which the country needs to go: amplifying all eligible voices to create a democracy that accounts for all.”

Lawmakers in California, Vermont, West Virginia and the District of Columbia have also all enacted automatic voter registration. Colorado and Connecticut did it administratively. And Alaska voters approved a slightly different version through a ballot measure this past November.

Despite signs of success in Oregon soon after the election, Republican governors in a number of states have blocked attempts to pass automatic voter registration. They often cite concerns about voter fraud, although several studies and investigations have shown it is not a widespread problem in the United States. Over the last two years, automatic voter registration bills have been introduced in nearly 30 states.

FACT SHEET: Automatic Voter Registration Transforms Oregon Youth Registration & Turnout Rates

By Henry Kraemer |  April 21, 2017

After a half-decade of leadership and advocacy from the Bus Project (an affiliate of the Alliance for Youth Action) alongside a coalition of advocates, Oregon passed automatic voter registration in 2015. It became operational in 2016, automatically registering eligible citizens to vote and update their registration addresses through Department of Motor Vehicle records.

Since implementation of automatic voter registration, Oregon has seen tremendous growth in youth voter turnout – 20 percentage points higher in 2016 than 2012. Simultaneously, the state has also seen dramatic increases in registration rates in communities of color – rising by 26 percentage points between December 2015 to January 2017. Oregon led the nation in registration and turnout growth for both demographic groups in 2016 (among the over 40 states with data publicly available as of April 2017).

Based on this success, the Alliance for Youth Action has launched the Democracy Done Right campaign to empower other youth led organizations to win automatic voter registration reforms in states around the country – with the goal of replicating Oregon’s extraordinary youth turnout success in every state, along with increasing options for voting method, and ending disenfranchisement based on legal record. The Alliance has previously assisted Alaska in their successful automatic voter registration ballot measure, and is currently supporting active bills in Illinois and Rhode Island.

Voter Registration is a Major Barrier to Youth Turnout

  • Approximately half of the turnout gap between voters age 18-to-29 and voters age 30+ is due to registration.
    • In the 2012 general election, 45% of young voters who were eligible to vote nationwide cast ballots versus a 66% eligible turnout rate of voters over age-30, a difference of 21 percentage points. The turnout gap in those who were registered to vote between older and younger voters in 2012 was just 11 percentage points – 78% for youth and 89% for older voters.
    • In 2012, “not being registered” was the most common reason cited by 18-29-year-old non-voters for why they did not vote. In all, 55 percent of black youth, 45 percent of Latino youth, and 61 percent of white youth said this was the reason they did not cast ballots in the 2012 election.
  • According to a July 2012 CIRCLE poll of young voters, only 13% of young voters held accurate understandings about their state’s voter registration deadline – meaning a shocking 87% did not know their state’s deadline or were misinformed.
  • Americans 18-to-29 change addresses at nearly 2.5 times the annual rate of Americans 30-and-over.   Since voters must re-register to vote every time they move, this means young people are more likely to lose their registered voter status — often without even realizing it.

After Implementing Automatic Voter Registration, Oregon Saw Huge  Spikes in Youth Turnout and Registration Rates for People of Color

  • Nearly half a million Oregonians directly benefited from automatic voter registration in its first year (15% of Oregon’s voting age population).
    • 225,796 voters registered for the general election through the program.
    • 264,551 voters received address updates through the automatic voter registration system, ensuring Oregon’s all-mail ballots reached them at their current residences.
  • Over 40% of automatic voter registrants were under-30, despite being only 20% of the overall adult population. Nearly 100,000 new automatic registrants were young (age distribution of automatic address updates were not available).
    • Between the 2012 and 2016 general elections, the number of registered Oregon voters age 18-to-29 increased by over 66,000. During the same period, the overall population of that cohort grew by fewer than 20,000 people.
    • In the first general election after the adoption of automatic voter registration, Oregon achieved 57% voter turnout for all adults-under-30 – 20 percentage points higher than the 37% rate for Oregon youth in 2012.
      • The 2016 and 2012 electoral environments were extraordinarily similar – limited presence of active presidential campaigns in the state,  nor any competitive gubernatorial or senatorial statewide elections.
    • Additionally, Oregon saw the largest increase in registration rates among communities of color in the nation in 2016.
      • According to exploratory analysis done by Blue Labs, in December 2015, Oregon’s registration rate for people of color was 53%, ranking 31st in the US.
      • By January 2017, that registration rate climbed to 79%, the second highest in the nation. Over half of eligible but unregistered people of color were added to the rolls after the implementation of automatic voter registration in Oregon – the most significant improvement of any state in the union.

How Automatic Voter Registration Works in Oregon

  • As of 2016, Oregon automatically registers voters exclusively through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), whose driver license, learners permit, and identification card applications require all information necessary to determine eligibility to vote.
  • When an Oregonian provides their name, address, birth date, and verification of citizenship (most commonly United States birth certificates and United States passports) to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the agency securely forwards the information to the Elections Division of the Secretary of State.
  • Applicants who provide other proofs of residence are not passed through to the Secretary of State, nor are individuals with protected records due to safety risks.
  • All DMV address updates are also sent to the Department of Elections, who verifies the new information against the current records in the state voter file, and updates the voter address if it appears more up-to-date than the voter registration record.
  • Newly registered and updated voters get a postcard saying 1) they have been registered to vote through automatic voter registration, 2) they can opt-out by signing and mailing back the postcard, and 3) to vote in the state’s closed partisan primary, they need to register with a political party by returning the postcard.
  • New automatic registrants are allowed 21 days to return the postcard. Voters who do not return the card are added to the voter registration list as nonaffiliated voters.

Oregon Automatic Voter Registration Success Fact Sheet (includes citations)