We already know that young people are a powerful political force in 2020, but young people cannot vote if they cannot access the ballot box. Since 2012, over 1,000 polling locations have closed and we’ve had enough. Our sister organization, Alliance for Youth Organizing, launched a brand new initiative with MTV, Campus Vote Project, and the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition called +1 the Polls — the first-ever national effort to create new polling sites on college campuses and in local communities for the 2020 primaries and general elections.
We are no strangers to fighting for polling locations on college campuses. Organizations in the Alliance network have been protecting and expanding polling locations on their campuses for years. Here are some of their stories:
Chakena Sims, the Board President for Chicago Votes, on why protecting black voter’s access to the polls is the right thing to do:
“Our democracy works best when more voices are included. A representative democracy ensures that Black people can visit the ballot box and choose from leaders that look and think like us, know what our lives are like, and have the best track record to improve our everyday lives.”
In 2018, Florida Governor Rick Scott, told election officials to ban early voting locations on college and university campuses discriminating against student voters across the state. Thanks to U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, the ban was deemed unconstitutional showed “a stark pattern of discrimination”. This court decision did not mean early voting locations instantly popped up around the state. Student organizers with Engage Miami had to fight for early voting sites at Miami Dade College, one of the largest higher education institutions in the country.
In 2018, MOVE Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project threatened to sue Hays County if they did not reopen polling locations for early voting and election day at the Texas State University campus. MOVE Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project won and a polling location was added. The campus saw a 400% increase in voter turnout on campus from 2014! Students were likely the key factor in flipping the conservative county to the Democrats.
Raven Douglas, Political Director at MOVE Texas, on why young people need to get out and vote:
“The fight is just getting started. It is going to take all of us, working in community, to expand access to polling places and giving more young people a voice. So get registered, get active, and join us in the fight. Together, we can empower a new generation of voters to strengthen our democracy and start to fix what’s broken.”