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. 86% 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 helped win 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 were able to get Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade mayor-elect, to support 9/10 of their Young People’s Policy Priorities.
  • 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 local candidates they endorsed won their elections.
  • Ohio Student Association helped flip the Franklin County Prosecutor seat and won one Ohio 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.