"Young people decided this election" above pictures of young people organizing

Local youth organizing won a brighter future for us all

The voters have decided. More Americans have voted for Joe Biden than any candidate in US history, and he has surpassed the 270 electoral college threshold to confirm his election as president. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the next president and vice president of the United States. And it was young people – and specifically youth of color – who took their organizing from the streets to the ballot box to save our democracy. 

As projections from CIRCLE show, at a minimum, youth vote turnout across the country increased by five points from 2016 and possibly increased by as much as 10 points. Young people and people of color decided this election.

The Alliance for Youth Action network has been building towards this election for years, and we’re proud of the work these youth-led and focused organizations contributed to this moment. This success is because organizations in the Alliance network know that all politics is local and youth organizers put in the work to ensure record-breaking turnout also resulted in wins at the local level. Here are just a few highlights showcasing how the Alliance network organized locally to turn out the youth vote and fuel wins across the finish line up and down the ballot: 

  • New Era Colorado successfully defeated the abortion ban and helped propel John Hickenlooper to the Senate. 85% of the young people they registered to vote turned out! 
  • Leaders Igniting Transformation made 1.3 million calls, sent 2.1 million texts, and sent 250,000 pieces of mail to turn out young voters in Wisconsin and help flip the state blue.
  • Poder in Action mobilized the youth vote in Arizona to turn out for progressive wins like legalizing marijuana and flipping the state blue for the first time since 1996.
  • MOVE Texas’ get-out-the-vote efforts were instrumental in reaching record-breaking voter turnout in four counties in Texas where more young people voted early in 2020 than the entirety of 2016. 
  • Mississippi Votes won the measure to change the Gubernatorial elections to direct popular vote instead of the electoral college style system. 
  • Next Up’s endorsed ballot measures including expanded access to drug addiction treatment and recovery services all passed. They also helped the Democratic Secretary of State candidate win her race.
  • Engage Miami organized young voters to help pass Amendment 2, which raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour, a huge win! They also supported Daniella Levine Cava to win the Miami-Dade mayoral race (the first woman to ever hold this office and first Dem since 2000).
  • Washington Bus endorsed Referendum 90, which calls for comprehensive sex ed to all students, and it passed.
  • Asian Community Development Council in Nevada and North Carolina Asian Americans Together mobilized young AAPI voters to turn out contributing to 83% of Asian youth supporting Biden
  • New Hampshire Youth Movement mobilized young voters to turn out and 2/3 of the candidates they endorsed won their elections.
  • Ohio Student Association helped flip the Franklin County Prosecutor seat and won one Supreme Court seat.

There would be no Biden-Harris victory without the youth vote, specifically the votes of young people of color, but there would also be no Biden-Harris victory without the strong local organizing power of young people – including those who cannot vote – to turn out their peers, families, and communities. There would be no Biden-Harris victory in Wisconsin without the work of Leaders Igniting Transformation who ran the largest young voter engagement program in the state, all while getting Milwaukee police kicked out of Milwaukee Public Schools. There would be no Biden-Harris victory without the work of New Era Colorado who not only propelled Hickenlooper to victory, but helped to defeat an anti-abortion ballot measure. There would be no Biden-Harris or Mark Kelly victory without Poder in Action, who focuses much of their issue organizing work holding Phoenix Police Department accountable for murdering members of their community.

While we are laser-focused on the year round fight to build political power alongside young people across the country, today we celebrate the power of Generation Z and Millennials in making this victory possible. 

Let’s celebrate because when democracy wins, we win. 

3 young people with i voted stickers

The youth vote is flexing its power

November 3rd Update

Election Day has finally come and we already have a lot to celebrate. 10 million young people have voted early and even more will be heading to the polls today. The youth vote will make history. But this didn’t come out of nowhere. This was the result of years of grassroots organizing from youth-led organizations in the Alliance for Youth Action network. 

Here is just a glimpse of the work these organizations have done this year to mobilize young people and fight for our future.

  • 85, 765 voters registered 
  • 3,623,357 calls made
  • 4,932,560 texts sent
  • 1,291,759 voter guides distributed
  • 4,200 volunteers recruited

Young people are also on the right side of history, and through local, youth-led organizing, the Alliance network is making change every single day across this country and today will be no different. 

For those who have yet to vote, today is the last chance to make your voice heard at the ballot box. Follow the lead of young people and be a voter. Find your polling place at our #VoteReady hub and make sure you know your voting rights

We know that this election is like no other. It is the most important election of our lives and everything is at stake, but young people are fighting and winning for a better future for us all.

October 27th Update

We are days out from Election Day and young people are already winning. Five million young voters have already cast their ballot and many more are expected to vote early ahead of November 3rd1. By mask or by mail at the ballot box, drop box, or mailbox, Generation Z and Millennials are already voting in high numbers – but we take nothing for granted because this is the most important election of our lifetimes.

The Alliance for Youth Action network has been organizing non-stop to get out the early vote. Organizations have recruited hundreds of volunteers to reach young and new voters to talk about their early voting options and what to expect on their ballot. The network has also developed essential voter guides that break down the candidates’ stances on the issues young people care about and describe what the ballot amendments or measures mean so young people can confidently vote up and down the ballot. Additionally, organizations are facilitating relational organizing events where young people can encourage their friends and family to vote early. 

New Era Colorado handing out Voter Guides and Poder in Action’s Youth Poder organizers at their Brujxs con Boletas event.

Alliance organizations are also getting creative with their early voting outreach. Engage Miami plastered the city with Vote Early billboards and bus stop signage. Forward Montana is hosting an extended Student Voter Day (four days long this year!) to ensure Montana students cast their ballots early.

On Vote Early Day, MOVE Texas partnered with Harris County and MTV to pass out voter survival guides, masks, hand sanitizer, and swag outside of one of Houston’s mega polling centers.  Poder in Action’s Youth Poder program hosted a socially distant block party called Brujxs Con Boletas (Witches With Ballots) where young people could fill out their ballots together and celebrate voting early. Detroit Action hosted a Just F**kin Vote Music Festival featuring local artists and vendors to help young people learn about voting early and the power of their vote.

Early Voting signage from Engage Miami and Detroit Action at their Just F**kin Vote Music Festival.

If you haven’t yet, join the millions of young people who are voting early and protecting our democracy. Head to our #VoteReady hub on our website to make your early voting plan today. Already voted? Help us spread the word on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to your friends and family to vote early and be an October voter.

1https://circle.tufts.edu/latest-research/absentee-and-early-voting-youth-2020-election 

young organizers next to "New Poll"

How VP Biden Can Earn Our Vote

In June, we launched a monthly polling series of young persuadable voters, aged 18-39, in battleground states ahead of the 2020 General Election. This monthly polling series surveys young voters on how they view Vice President Biden, their concerns during the Coronavirus, the issues they care about the most, if they have been contacted by campaigns, and more.

As we near Election Day, we are using these poll results to better inform our organizing work and national campaigns. We are also using these polls to remind candidates to listen and reach out to young people. The results from our poll can be found here.

October 2020 Results

With only 12 days left until Election Day, over three million young voters ages 18-29 have turned out to vote, which is higher than this time in the cycle in 20161. And in key battleground states, nearly two million young people have already voted. This is great news. 

We have been tracking changes in these young voters’ sentiment as it relates to voter enthusiasm, campaign contact, and issue priorities leading up to the election and we’re excited to see the energy expressed in our polls translate to the ballot box. Ahead of tonight’s final presidential debate, here are the results from our final monthly tracking poll of young persuadable voters before November.

One in five (20%) of the young voters we polled have already voted. Of those who have yet to vote, 48% are planning to vote early in-person, including 58% of Latinx voters and 51% of Black voters. Twenty-two percent will be sending in their mail or absentee ballot by Election Day. Only 18% say that they are planning to vote on Election Day. 

Young persuadable voters in battleground states are coming together in their support for the Biden-Harris ticket. In October, young voters who have a favorable opinion of Vice President Joe Biden increased by eight points bumping up the number of young voters who have a favorable view of Biden to 74%. At the same time, 75% of young voters report they have been contacted by the Biden campaign in the past month, a 7 point increase from September.

A trend that has remained constant in our monthly tracking poll is how young voters in battleground states view the coronavirus. The coronavirus pandemic remains the most important issue in the upcoming election for young Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents, with 27% choosing it as their top priority. However, for young Black and Latinx voters, the coronavirus is closely followed by ending systemic racism and overall access to healthcare respectively.

This month, we asked young persuadable voters in battleground states about the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before the election. Forty-four percent of these young voters say that if a Trump nominee is confirmed to the Supreme Court, it will make them more likely to vote for Joe Biden. Most notably, a plurality of young voters supports the idea of adding four additional justices to the Supreme Court if Joe Biden becomes president. 

Head to our website to see the full results of our final monthly tracking poll including the top issues young voters want elected officials to address around elections and democracy (spoiler alert— young people prioritize ending partisan gerrymandering and implementing fair redistricting) as well as what they want to see in the first 100 days in the case of a Democratic-controlled Senate in 2021.

It’s time to end the old trope that young people don’t vote. This generation is demanding a new narrative. Help spread the word and share our poll results on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram today. 

1 https://circle.tufts.edu/2020-election-center 

September 2020 Results

As we head into the first Presidential Debate tonight, we will be listening for Vice President Biden to make the case to young people that he is fighting for our future. We need a candidate who does not just oppose President Trump, but has a bold vision for our country that matches our values.

According to our September poll with Civiqs, Vice President Biden has improved his appeal to young persuadable voters in battleground states where 68% reported they have a very or somewhat favorable view of Biden. Notably, this number is up by seven points from August. Sixty-eight percent of young persuadables have also been contacted by the Biden campaign in the past month, an eight point increase from August. 

While Biden is improving his appeal and increasing his outreach to young voters, he still has more work to do to mobilize young Black and Latinx voters. Twenty-one percent of Black youth under 32 and 17% of Latinx youth under 32 we polled have a very unfavorable view of Biden. In addition, 38% of young Latinx voters report not being contacted by the Biden campaign. Meanwhile, Trump is reaching nearly a third of young Latinx men with digital ads.  With nearly half of eligible Latinx voters between the ages of 18 and 35, it is integral that the Biden campaign have a strategy to engage Latinx youth.

Graphs show the increase in favorability and campaign contact

Notably, for the third month in a row, the coronavirus is the top issue for young persuadable voters in battleground states. That is why it is no surprise that when asked what they want to hear from VP Biden during tonight’s debate, young people overwhelmingly said they want Biden to address the issue of the coronavirus.

word cloud of top issues young people want to hear VP Biden discuss in 1st debate

Our poll also uncovered how concerns related to the coronavirus are changing for young voters. Persuadable young voters of color reported that the threat of losing their job is now their top concern related to the coronavirus.h. Thirty-two percent of young Black voters report losing their job as their top concern for how the coronavirus is impacting their life. This is a 12 point increase from last month. Thirty-nine percent of young Black women report losing their job, hours, and income as a top concern. We need Biden to support bold solutions for young people facing economic uncertainty during this pandemic and recession.

Finally, we found that the number of young persuadable voters planning to vote in person has increased for all demographics since August. The majority of Black and Latinx young voters plan on voting in person. This is a reminder that as we work to educate young voters about voting by mail, we must also organize to keep polling sites open and ensure they have a plan to vote early. Our new #VoteReady webpage is one way we are urging young voters to make those plans now.

Line chart showing that young voters plan to vote in person more in September than they did in August

August 2020 Results

With 75 days until the election, it is more important than ever that Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris prioritize young voters. 

We’ve been running a monthly polling series with Civiqs on young persuadable voters in battleground states and we just released the results from August. For the third month in a row, forty percent of young people in battleground states say they haven’t been contacted by the Biden campaign. Vice President Biden is running out of time to appeal to young voters and earn our votes.

White letters on blue background: for the third month in a row, 40% of young voters in battleground states have not been contacted by the Biden campaign

In August, coronavirus increased in importance as the number one issue for young voters. 72% of young voters say their greatest concern for voting in person is exposure to the virus. Additionally, young voters are looking for solutions to tackling our healthcare system. 61% say that Medicare for All is the most important policy change to make healthcare affordable.

White text on blue background that read the most important issue for Gen Z and Millennial voters is in battleground states is coronavirus

Another interesting finding  is that while the top issue priorities have changed across multiple demographics, ending systemic racism and discrimination remains the number one issue for young Black voters since we started our polling in June.

You can dive deeper into these findings on our website. Share these results on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Join us on Twitter tonight as we live tweet the final night of the Democratic National Convention and see if Vice President Biden includes the issues young people care about as part of his vision for the nation and makes clear our role in advancing change. 

July 2020 Results

The general election is in less than 100 days and Vice President Joe Biden has to do more to  earn the votes of young people in battleground states.

We just released the second round of our monthly polling series on young persuadable voters in battleground states and found that, similar to last month, a staggering 40% of young voters have not been contacted by the Biden campaign or the Democratic party.  If Joe Biden wants to mobilize young people to turn out for him in the fall, his campaign must invest in young voter outreach. This is especially alarming when Generation Z voters continue to view Joe Biden less favorably than Millennial voters and more 18-25 year-old persuadable voters have seen digital ads from President Trump or the Republican Party than from Vice President Biden or the Democratic Party. 

Not only does Biden need to reach out to the largest voting bloc in the electorate,he needs to focus on the driving force behind our generation—the issues that matter most to us. Ending systemic racism and discrimination remains a top issue, however, our latest poll found that the coronavirus has moved to the number one issue for young persuadable voters. 

This month we went deeper into the issue of ending systemic racism and discrimination in relation to policing and found that young persuadable voters believe defunding the police is the most important change for justice, especially among 18-25 year-olds. Notably, young voters selected ending private, for-profit prisons, and detention centers as the second most important change to our policing and criminal justice system.

Our latest poll found that 48% of young Black voters say they plan to vote in person this fall. This is an important reminder thatour work recruiting poll workers, raising awareness about voting early, and organizing to keep polling sites open is critical.

June 2020 Results

Over the past few weeks, young people have taken to the streets, city council meetings, school board meetings, and more demanding we defend Black lives and dismantle white supremacy. According to our recent poll with Change Research, young people plan on bringing these same demands to the ballot box in November.

In our poll of persuadable young voters, aged 18-39 in battleground states, they cite systemic racism and discrimination as their number one issue. Systemic racism and discrimination impact every aspect of our society and addressing these problems are long overdue. Young people are fed up with generations of inaction and are looking for a candidate to put forth bold solutions.

We also found that Vice President Joe Biden has a lot of work to do to appeal to younger voters. If Biden and the Democratic party want to authentically connect with the largest voting bloc in the electorate, they must recognize the driving force behind a large part of our generation—the issues that matter most to us.

Overall, 54% of young voters say their top concern about the Coronavirus is their parents’ health. Our poll also reveals that young Black and Latinx voters are significantly more concerned about economic stressors and their health respective to their white counterparts. 

Our poll also found that Black and Latinx young voters feel that voting in person is more secure than voting by mail while white voters largely see no difference – a reminder that as we work to educate young voters about voting by mail, we must also organize to keep polling sites open. Additionally, 43% of Gen Z and Millennial voters say they have not been contacted by the Democratic Party or Biden’s campaign. Notably, young voters report seeing digital ads from the Republican Party or Trump campaign at the same rate as the Democratic Party or Biden campaign. 

Share the results on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

Read the full poll results here.

headshots of latinx organizers

Latinx Organizers of the Alliance Network

Latinx Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), celebrates and uplifts the countless contributions of more than 60 million Latinx Americans to our culture and society. During this month, we specifically uplift the work and achievements of young Latinx organizers and activists across the country fighting for a better future. In the Alliance for Youth Action, there are countless Latinx organizers working in their community, getting out the vote, and pushing for progressive policy.

Here are just a few of those organizers and their stories.

ANTHONY ABEJA (he/him)

Voter Engagement Organizer | Engage Miami

Florida City, Florida

What do you do at Engage Miami?

I am tasked with helping young people in Miami-Dade County and across South Florida prepare for elections. This entails a lot of different things, whether it is helping people to register to vote for the first time, make a plan for voting (for example, if they want to vote by mail), or making sure they have information about the upcoming elections. But, in a sense, it runs a lot deeper than that—especially when you are building relationships with young people and asking them which issues matter to them the most. That way they can start thinking about those issues in the context of voting and civic engagement.

How does your identity and heritage influence your organizing/work?

Organizing is a very fulfilling job and as a first-generation Mexican-American, I was instilled growing up with two values: hard work and education. These two values definitely influence how I do the work I do now. Organizing really takes these two values to another level because no longer is it just about educating myself, but it also means now educating others and learning from others. It means working hard with others so that way we can have and co-create the future and society we want to see.

When speaking directly with young Latinx voters, what do they say are the most important issues to them?

When I talk to other young Latinx people, they definitely want to see a difference in society. Some of the issues they always bring up to me are affordable housing, climate change, community safety (whether it’s gun violence or police and prison reform). These issues are on the minds of young Latinx folks and, slowly but surely, we are starting to get our voices out there.

VICTÒRIA SANDOVAL (she/they)

* Victòria identifies as Chicanx

Field Organizer | MOVE Texas

Laredo, Texas

What do you do at MOVE Texas?

I help build political power for underrepresented youth communities at the Texas-Mexico Border.

How does your identity and heritage influence your organizing/work?

My identity is vital to my organizing. Watching my community demonstrate people power as a means of surviving taught me how to organize. My community taught me how to have empathy, how to execute a plan, how to listen with compassion and how to lead our youth. This city created me. All of my wins are evidence of the beauty and compassion that exists at the Texas-Mexico border. 

When speaking directly with young Latinx voters, what do they say are the most important issues to them?

When speaking with young Latinx people on the ground, the issues that are top of mind are dealing with climate change.  We are raised in beautiful multifaceted communities but the next generation will not enjoy these communities without a government who will take initiatives to solve climate change rapidly. 

ALÁN M. DE LEÓN (he/him/él)

Houston Advocacy Organizer | MOVE Texas

Houston, Texas

What do you do at MOVE Texas?

At MOVE Texas we do three different types of front-facing work: field, education, and advocacy. My responsibilities are to drive our advocacy efforts in the Houston region. What that looks like on day-to-day is building coalitions, collaborating with other justice-oriented partners (student and youth partners, academic partners, nonprofit partners, community leaders), as well as conducting deep relational organizing in underrepresented communities. This is all towards the goal of building the collective power that is needed in order to successfully advocate for and advance progressive policies that meet the needs of our communities in the region.

How does your identity and heritage influence your organizing/work?

My identity and background play a big role in why I decided to get started in organizing in the first place. I’m the first in my family to be born in the United States. I’m the first in my family to go to college. My life has always been very politicized on questions of immigration and economics. We come from a very humble background. I was always very frustrated, not just with the fact that the Latinx community interests were never prioritized to the extent they needed to but also frustrated, with the lack of civic participation on our own end. Such as not enough people being registered to vote, not enough people voting, not enough people being involved in our political processes. And I saw the ways in which this accosted us. I saw it incumbent upon myself to do whatever I could in my own backyard, Houston, Texas, the city where I was born and raised, to organize, to bring people together, and to try and change the culture of how Latinx communities get involved in politics.

When speaking directly with young Latinx voters, what do they say are the most important issues to them?

As a Latinx person, there has always been this stereotype that the Latinx community is only concerned about immigration which is just not true. There are other issues on the minds of young Latinx voters. For example, I hear that young Latinx voters are concerned about climate change. They know that because of irresponsible environmental policy-making, we have to deal with the biggest impacts of climate change. We need to take action on that front. The second thing is we are concerned about criminal justice reform. We do not want to live in a society where racism continues to exist. So, we want to build a criminal justice system that is based on restoration and not punitiveness. Finally, a lot of Latinx voters are concerned about voting rights. For years, our community has been disenfranchised by voter suppression, whether that is through stringent voter ID laws, the closure of polling sites in our communities, or lack of access to easy means to get registered to vote. All of these issues and more are on the minds of young Latinx voters which drive them to the ballot box this November.

JAVIER ALVARADO VEGA (he/him)

Youth Vote Coordinator | New Era Colorado

Denver/Greeley, Colorado

What do you do at New Era Colorado?

At New Era Colorado, I run a team of six organizers and am in charge of two college campuses, DU and UCCS. We are a nonpartisan voter registration drive so my work revolves around getting the folks in my pod and our overall Denver Team to register folks to vote! We do this both by in person events, phone banks, and virtual voter registration sessions. I have also worked with members of the organization to introduce Spanish language into our Get-Out-the-Vote efforts. To build a youth voter base you cannot leave out anybody from the electoral process.

How does your identity and heritage influence your organizing/work?

I have always seen myself as a supporter instead of a leader. I want to support the folks around me to do better and be better as people. But I will still stand and advocate for folks who ask me to. The voices of the marginalized need to be uplifted. This has led me to get involved within my org to make sure we are serving members of the Latinx community. And even then, make sure the marginalized Latinx voters, those who do not speak Spanish or lack access to a printer, should also get all the information they need to vote.

When speaking directly with young Latinx voters, what do they say are the most important issues to them?

First of all, it is always very encouraging for me to see young Latinx voters excited about voting. Even more when it is their first time, and even more if this is their first time due to recently obtaining their citizenship! Their struggles and efforts should be celebrated. But when it comes to important issues, young Latinx voters are greatly impacted by important issues such as immigration, student debt, police brutality, and economic access. Latinx students are impacted at higher rates in the economy than white students, and even more, if the students are female-presenting, or members of the LGBTQ+ community.

MARIANA OCHOA (she/her)

Communications Manager | Engage Miami

Miami, Florida

What do you do at Engage Miami?

As the Communications Manager, I get to tell the stories of young people here and the issues they care about, as well as get them resources so they can stay civically engaged all year-round.

How does your identity and heritage influence your organizing/work?

As a Latinx person myself, I know that we come from all different types of experiences and backgrounds. Sometimes we speak different languages and we’re all different shades. We are a multi-faceted group.

When speaking directly with young Latinx voters, what do they say are the most important issues to them?

From talking to young Latinx voters here some of the issues that they say that they care about are Democracy Done Right, climate justice, and investing in our communities rather than more police and prisons. These are also issues that we cover in our platform, the YPPP—Young Peoples’ Policy Priorities at Engage Miami.

National Voter Registration Day

Last month, the Alliance for Youth Action network celebrated another successful National Voter Registration Day (NVRD)—the largest single-day effort to register people to vote across the country. This civic holiday has a special place in our organizing hearts because the Alliance co-founded NVRD in 2012! What started as an idea from young organizers grew into a major holiday garnering support and participation from influencers, elected officials, and nonprofits alike. 

This year, NVRD was more important than ever. The coronavirus has drastically changed the way many organizations, including organizations in the Alliance network, conduct voter registration work. The mass mobilization on NVRD to register voters was critical to getting our country safely registered and #VoteReady. And on NVRD, over 1.5 million people were registered to vote nationwide!

Here are some highlights from our network on National Voter Registration Day 2020:

Detroit Action, a project of Tides Advocacy

Detroit Action partnered with eight Black-owned and Detroit based businesses to get them NVRD posters and materials with unique links for folks to register to vote. They also partnered with two homeless shelters in Detroit to have socially distant in-person tabling and voter registration events. 

Forward Montana Foundation

Forward Montana held virtual themed phone banks every night during the week of NVRD where 60 volunteers helped young people register to vote. They also worked with local partners to takeover communities with NVRD posters, banners, stickers, street chalk, and more.

New Era Colorado

New Era Colorado registered young people to vote on college campuses in the field and online in seven cities across the state.

Next Up

Next Up, based in Oregon, celebrated NVRD virtually this year with a 4-day concert series featuring young, local artists. 

North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT)

NCAAT hosted multiple online events,  campus actions, as well as socially distanced in-person voter registration drives throughout the week of NVRD. They kicked off the week with a Youth Phone Bank where youth callers helped young people register to vote. NCAAT worked with student groups at UNC Sangam, UNC MASH at UNC-Chapel Hill, and with Duke University’s Asian American Student Association to run Campus Takeover events. On campuses, they co-hosted voter education workshops and walked students through their online voter registration portal ncaat.vote/ig. On Friday, NCAAT ended NVRD Youth Week of Action by hosting an IG live while organizers cooked, chatted, and “Dished out the Vote!” 

The Washington Bus

The Washington Bus hosted a digital voter registration drive with two dozen volunteers where they contacted unregistered voters via text and social media. They also created a video with volunteers, interns, and fellows as well as launched voter registration ads.

5 Ways to Protect Democracy

The Alliance for Youth Action network has always fought for Democracy Done Right, but we are experiencing long lines at polling locations, a national shortage of poll workers, and efforts to suppress the youth vote. Our democracy is under attack. 

The Alliance for Youth Action network organizes every day to protect our democracy. Now, in the middle of the election season, we need your help. 

From working the election to helping your community vote early, there is something everyone can do to ensure all voices are heard this fall.

Here are five ways you can help us protect democracy:

1 Sign our petition: tHE NEXT PRESIDENT & CONGRESS MUST ENACT DEMOCRACY REFORM

We need a democracy where voters are protected from discrimination and can make themselves heard at the ballot box. A democracy where electoral districts are drawn fairly so that every voter’s ballot is of equal value. A democracy that isn’t bought and paid for by the highest corporate bidder. And a democracy where ordinary Americans — more women, people of color, and working people — can run for office without relying on big corporate dollars. And we need these changes don day one. Sign our petition today to urge the next president and Congress to pass the For the People Act (HR1) as the first priority in their administration.

new citizens of color with the text "demand a democracy that works for all of us"

2 Protect the results

Protect the Results is a coalition of over 100 bipartisan grassroots organizations ready to protect the valid results of the 2020 election. We cannot ignore the threat that Trump poses to our democracy and a peaceful transition. We will stand together to ensure that if Trump loses the 2020 presidential election he will not throw our country into a constitutional crisis. We will honor the valid results of the 2020 election, ensure that every vote is counted, and show up to demand that the losing candidate put their ego aside and concede for the good of our country. Join a mobilization in your community to demand that all the votes are counted and for the peaceful transition of power.

3 sign up to Be a poll worker

This is a critical moment. Even before the pandemic, the US was experiencing a shortage of election workers. The pandemic has exacerbated this need. Power the Polls is solving this issue by recruiting poll workers who can staff in-person voting locations during early voting and on Election Day. Be a hero in your community and sign up to be a poll worker today.

4 Volunteer with election protection

Voters this year will face obstacles that have no place in a modern democracy — and these impediments to voting will hit communities of color the hardest. Help to protect voters’ rights from the unprecedented threats they will face this year when trying to cast their ballot. Volunteer with Election Protection to monitor polling places for voter suppression efforts or watch social media for disinformation. Volunteers can also reach out to voters to make sure they know their rights.

The polling place at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

5 Get out the vote by SUPPORTING one of the Alliance’s network organizations.

The Alliance is America’s premier youth organizing network because our work is driven 100% by local organizations. When the movement succeeds, it’s because of the local organizations putting in the work. Support one of these organizations in your state.

AYA Map
Young organizers holding sign that says "defund the police"

From the March on Washington to today, the young Black leaders fighting for change

From the Civil Rights movement to today’s movement for Black lives, young Black organizers and activists have been at the forefront of every fight for social change. On the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, the late John Lewis’ words echo in our minds, “I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.” The Black-led organizations in the Alliance for Youth Action network are answering that call. They are creating a world where all people are seen in their full humanity and treated as such. 

Here are some of those organizations at work.

Chicago Votes

Chicago Votes is a powerhouse of progressive policy. In 2019, they wrote and passed landmark legislation expanding access to the ballot box for incarcerated citizens. SB 2090, their Voting in Jails bill, ensures voters who are eligible to vote and incarcerated have access to vote. This made Cook County Jail the first jail in the country to become an official polling location. This past March, over 1,500 people being held pretrial detention voted, around 600 of which relied on same-day voter registration. 

Chicago Votes also wrote and passed HB 2541, their Civics in Prison bill. This legislation  allows non-partisan civic organizations to train incarcerated citizens to provide peer-taught civics education to re-entering citizens. Chicao Votes truly is blazing a trail for brand new, innovative policies that fill the gaps in our democracy and ensure that our voting system works for all.

Chicago Votes is a non-partisan, non-profit organization building a more inclusive democracy by putting power in the hands of young Chicagoans. They are engaging and developing a new generation of leaders by opening the doors of government and politics to young people from all corners of the city.

Detroit Action

Following the murder George Floyd, Detroit Action sought ways to uproot systemic racism and oppression in their own community while also finding ways to divest from policing. Detroit Action’s housing team, with coalition partners, introduced the Detroit Bill of Rights—one of the first changes to the city’s charter in eight years. The Detroit Bill of Rights includes eight core values: the right to water and sanitation, the right to environmental health, the right to safety, to right to live free from discrimination, the right to recreation, the right to access and mobility, the right to housing, and the right to “the fulfillment of basic needs” like food and utilities. As part of this initiative, Detroit Action is specifically calling for affordable housing, solutions on rental assistance, and more for their most vulnerable residents.

Detroit Action is a grassroots member-led, community-based organization fighting for political power, racial, and economic justice for working-class Detroiters.

Leaders Igniting Transformation

Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT), have been at the forefront of the fight to dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline in their community. Since 2018, LIT has fought to remove the presence of police, and their contracts, away from the Black and Brown students inside of Milwaukee Public Schools. In the past they’ve won victories around no new TSA style metal detectors, blocking policy that would have mandated police being involved for suspected criminal activity, and lowering the amount of School Officers in and around schools.

After years of organizing, they won their fight on June 18th when the Milwaukee Public School Board unanimously passed a resolution to end all contracts between the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Public Schools. Their organizing efforts culminated in a 700-person rally and over 1,000 testimonies that eventually put pressure on Milwaukee Public Schools to begin the pathway to building safe schools where the voices and experiences of young people are centered. 

Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) is a youth of color-led independent nonprofit. Founded in 2017, LIT engages in values-based issue and electoral organizing, direct action, advocacy for public policy, and leadership development. LIT organizes young people to build independent political power for social, racial and economic justice.

Minnesota Youth Collective

In the midst of the Uprising in the Twin Cities, Minnesota Youth Collective opted to open their office doors as a supply site. They accepted donations from generous community members and distributed them to those in need. From front-line protestors to those who had been displaced, Minnesota Youth Collective was able to support members of their community by serving as a resource hub. Young people showed up to donate, to sort donations, and to take donations to where they were needed. Organizers posted on social media and shared critical information for protesters and supporters of the Uprising. They mobilized and came together for each other and their community. Minnesota Youth Collective believes no one can be free until we are all free, and that abolition is the only way forward.

Minnesota Youth Collective empowers the next generation of leaders to take their rightful seat at the decision-making table, elect people who reflect their values and shape legislation to better the lives of Minnesotans.

Mississippi Votes

Due to voter suppression, antiquated voting laws, lack of voter education, and lack of investment in vulnerable communities, Mississippi presents many barriers to voters. That’s why Mississippi Votes launched #Up2Us—a voter registration, voter protection, and get-out-the-vote campaign focused on mobilizing young people. Their mantra: The fight for democracy is truly #Up2Us. 

Since the inception of #Up2Us, Mississippi Votes has registered 15,000 new voters and for several years in a row has been among the top field organizations in the country on National Voter Registration Day. In 2019, they turned out under-represended voters in 18 counties and impacted five key races. They are continuing this work today with the goal of engaging over 200,000 young voters state-wide through canvassing door-to-door, text banking, phone banking, and more. See their work in action here.

Mississippi Votes is an organization of intergenerational synergy centering and led by young people invested in the progression of Mississippi. They do this through  programming and outreach strategies that empower young people, encourages civic engagement, and educates communities on voting rights through place-based grassroots organizing.

Civil rights giants like John Lewis and Martin Luther King Jr. have passed on the torch to this generation’s young Black leaders. They are building youth political power and making a change in their communities 365 days/year. This year, more than ever, it is crucial to amplify the voices of Black youth organizers and the issues that impact Black youth to not only get out the Black youth vote, but to push candidates on the issues that matter to them, and fight voter disinformation and voter suppression to ensure voter access to the ballot box.

LIT organizers on a bench

NYT Opinion: How Democrats Can Win the Youth Vote in November

This opinion piece explores the peer-to-peer organizing work young people in the Alliance for Youth Action network do every day. This grassroots organizing work must be invested in if the Democratic Party wants to win the youth vote in November.

Read the full article written by Rainesford Stauffer here.

defend black lives

Defund the Police. Defend Black Lives.

As a multiracial network focused on building political power with young people across the country, we stand in solidarity with the thousands of young leaders taking to the streets to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and David McAtee who were murdered by the police. These names are the latest in a long line of Black community members senselessly taken from us, and we are heartbroken and enraged as this list continued to grow while we drafted this statement. 

Following the examples set by Black leaders and organizations—such as the Movement for Black Lives, Dream Defenders, BYP 100 and Black-led groups in our own network who have been working on this issue for years—the Alliance for Youth Action joins their calls to defund the police and defend Black lives.

We are a network of local organizations that serve as political homes for young people – working 365 days/year to build power and make a change in our communities. Our work cannot happen without a reckoning of our country’s racist and genocidal past and the impact that white supremacy has on every aspect of our work. While we are most known for our work to mobilize the youth vote, we value young Black lives in their full humanity and power. We recognize how institutions at every level have failed Black people and how our democracy was built to specifically exclude Black communities through:

  • A publicly-funded policing system that was founded on slave patrols and continues to target and murder Black people. 
  • A progressive funding ecosystem that funnels money to Black youth organizations during federal election cycles and then retreats and remains silent when it’s time to fund local issue campaigns and hold elected officials accountable. 
  • A myriad of laws that have excluded Black people from fair, safe, and accessible voting and political power. 

Our network is not immune from white supremacy. Whiteness has been at the center of many of our organizations since their founding – including our national organization – and we have work to do within our own systems and structures to undo these harmful norms. We have much work ahead to inspect our own role in upholding systemic, institutional, interpersonal and internalized racism as a network.

Centering Black people in our work means it is time to divest from police, and invest in Black futures. Defunding the police as part of the path towards abolition is one of the many steps that must be taken to ensure that Black people are able to thrive. In addition, we must fight for jobs that pay a living wage, for accessible healthcare that includes mental health care, for access to nutrition, for access to education, and more. 

As a network, we commit to ongoing learning about abolition, dismantling of white supremacy, and decentering of whiteness in our work. For individual organizations, this work includes providing extensive training on anti-racism for staff, focusing on issues that disproportionately impact people of color, incorporating racial justice and intersectional language in messaging, and integrating anti-racism into every aspect of the work including strategic plans. 

History shows that Black youth are the moral compass of our nation; they have made it clear for decades that America’s notions of ‘progress’ are not nearly enough, and have been explicit about their needs to not only survive, but thrive. We must follow their lead and demand that Black lives truly matter, fight for Black liberation, and ensure Black people in the United States are seen in their full humanity. 

8 Ways to be an At-Home Organizer: Lessons from Our Network

Staying at home and practicing social distancing has been our new normal for nearly two months now. But this has not stopped the Alliance from organizing young people to build political power. Every organization in the Alliance network has found new and innovative ways to transform their events, programming, and local organizing work to fit our new reality.

Here are 8 innovative tactics Alliance network organizations are using right now to mobilize young people:

Virtual Town Halls

On April 16th, Alliance network Executive Directors co-hosted a virtual town hall with Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden on reforming our democracy and securing our elections in 2020. Check out the highlights here. 

Next Up hosted a COVID-19 Youth Town Hall with legislators and community leaders that covered mental health, the impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities, access to technology, and more.

New Era Colorado partnered with Colorado Senate Majority Leader, Steve Fenberg, and the Student Borrower Protection Center to host a town hall on how to navigate student loans during the COVID-19 outbreak. New Era also partnered with Colorado’s Secretary of State, Jena Griswold, to host a virtual town hall where they discussed options to vote safely in the upcoming elections and celebrated 17-year-olds for turning out in droves in March for their first primary elections.

Online Classes and Trainings

Social distancing did not stop Leaders Igniting Transformation from launching their annual Black Hogwarts program! Black Hogwarts, now a virtual training program, provides leadership development and political education curriculum to high school students, college students, creatives, and more. In this year’s adaptation of the program, participants can choose “houses” like Civics Gryffindor or Culture Hufflepuff. 

Class is still in session at MOVE University! Since social distancing began, MOVE Texas has hosted seven MOVE University classes on topics including voting rights, paid sick leave, arts and activism, DACA, and building a new generation of voters. 

Instagram Storytelling Series

The Washington Bus has been collecting stories from young community members about how they are stay civically engaged while social distancing as a part of their #DemocracyStillMatters Instagram series

 Forward Montana launched a fun and engaging Instagram series informing their followers about the importance of the Census and how to fill it out.

Instagram Live Events

As part of their Give A Sh*t Week of events, Chicago Votes hosted “Sh*t Talks” on Instagram Live with organizers about cannabis and community activism and creating during COVID.

Every Friday, college fellows from Leaders Igniting Transformation host “Staying Lit”— an Instagram Live series exploring current events like immigration during COVID-19 and starting a business as a college student.

Tweet Storms

As part of their Give A Sh*t Week of events, Chicago Votes hosted a Twitter Storm to get people to sign their petition to Unlock Civics for incarcerated people.

Ohio Student Association launched a spearheaded “Action April” calling on the Governor, Health Director, and local sheriffs to release incarcerated people statewide and provide adequate health treatment and sanitization via Twitter. They also formed the Montgomery County Jail Coalition and sent a letter to the sheriff and judges demanding to halt all plans to build a new jail and to release incarcerated people during COVID-19.

Movie Nights

Using Netflix Party, Engage Miami, MOVE Texas, and Chicago Votes, hosted a joint movie night featuring Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13th” accompanied by a live tweet-along.

Virtual Phone Banks

Forward Montana has taken their Census organizing work completely online by hosting virtual phone banks with their organizers. Their statewide teams have made over 15,000 phone calls to ensure Montanans have the information they need to get counted.

Art and Activism

The Washington Bus hosted a contest to collect art from young creatives with prize money designed to offset financial burdens young people are feeling right now. See all the submissions here!

Minnesota Youth Collective is building a “Quaranzine” filled with written and visual art submitted by young organizers.

Want to learn more about how Leaders Igniting Transformation, Ohio Student Association, and Loud Light mobilized young voters for their primaries during COVID-19? Read more in our “The Alliance Network in the Primaries” blog.