*Updated Thursday, June 18th, 2020
During the primary season, Alliance network organizations did what they do best – mobilize young voters. Whether it be throwing parties at the polls or handing out voter guides, these organizations do the work every single day to make sure our democracy is more accessible to young people.
Learn more about how Alliance network organizations turned out young voters during the primaries ⬇️
Colorado saw major wins on Super Tuesday with 29% of eligible 18-25 year-olds casting a ballot statewide—that’s nine points higher than in the 2018 primary and seventeen points higher than the 2016 caucuses! Tuesday was also the first primary in Colorado history that 17-year-olds who turn 18 by the general election were able to vote (thanks to a law New Era Colorado passed in last year’s legislative session!). New Era Colorado reached out to thousands of 17-year-olds through school visits, texts, phone calls, and digital ads to educate them about the new law and get them to the polls. 42% of eligible 17-year-olds actually cast ballots—an incredible feat for this group of first-time voters! Additionally, New Era Colorado’s efforts to require voter service centers and dropboxes on certain campuses ended up being critical with the high turnout on college campuses. Yesterday was further proof that Colorado’s young people are a voting powerhouse shaping the state’s future largely thanks to the year-round organizing work of New Era Colorado.
MOVE Texas went big on Super Tuesday throwing 20 different Parties at the Polls across the state providing pizza and snacks, games and entertainment, and, of course, all the voting information young Texans need. Ahead of Super Tuesday, organizers knocked on 2,643 doors, sent 51,854 texts, and called 11,590 young voters to remind them about the election and make sure they had everything they needed to cast their ballot. Check out Charlie Bonner, MOVE Texas’ Communications Director, at a phone bank on NBC News explaining just how powerful young voters are in Texas. The big story of Super Tuesday, though, was the devastatingly long lines at polling locations across the state of Texas, especially at college campuses. With some reports of lines being up to 7 hours long, MOVE Texas stepped up to help keep people in line by buying and distributing pizza, water, and snacks late into the night. Over the past two years, MOVE Texas has fought for more polling locations on college campuses and continues that fight as we quickly approach November 2020.
On Super Tuesday, North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT) got out the vote in Morrisville, NC at the polling location with the highest Asian American voter turnout in the state – a tradition they have kept up since 2016! NCAAT’s staff, fellows, and volunteerswere at that polling location from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm when the last voter cast their ballot. Despite the pouring rain, they handed out coffee, snacks, voter education literature, and shared information about the upcoming census. Alongside other statewide groups, NCAAT trained staff and volunteers to serve as nonpartisan poll watchers, assisting voters and reporting any site-specific issues to our state board of elections. NCAAT engaged with over 1,500 community members that day and even saw some of the young voters who graduated from their youth program cast their first ballot!
Ahead of the Primaries, Minnesota Youth Collective partnered with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund to offer Primary and Caucus trainings in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Rochester, and Mankato. The trainings provided a basic overview of what primaries and caucuses are and how to participate in them. The day before Super Tuesday, Minnesota Youth Collective organized a “Midnight Madness” event where they covered whiteboards, sidewalks, and more on the University of Minnesota campus with reminders to vote. They also created and distributed a “Young Voters Guide to the Presidential Primaries” on campus during Super Tuesday that included information students on campus needed to bring to the polls and find their polling location.
To get out the vote and educate young voters in Michigan, Michigan Student Power Network distributed over 500 voter report cards grading candidates on the issues young people care about like healthcare, racial justice, education, climate justice, immigrant rights, and more. They also handed out over 500 know your voting rights guides as well as 2,800 politically-themed stickers and buttons. Leading up to the primary, they provided voting information and handed out literature on six different campuses across the state.
The Primary Elections in Mississippi fell on the Tuesday of the week of Spring Break meaning many students were off-campus and would not be able to vote. To ensure students would not miss their opportunity to cast their ballot, Mississippi Votes geared all their efforts to pushing absentee ballots on campuses! Leading up to the primary, their Democracy in Action Fellows educated students and the community about the absentee voting process. Their efforts contributed to a jump in submitted absentee ballots across the state. In addition to educating the community about the absentee voting process, Mississippi Votes’ Fellows also educated people on down-ballot races through their “Ballot Basics” program.
Washington was one of the states that shifted from a caucus to a presidential primary this year. In preparation for this, The Washington Bus was all hands on deck! They hosted four phone banks where volunteers called and texted young and first-time voters across the state with information on how to vote, when to vote, and how to fill out a ballot (which are surprisingly complicated in Washington!). The Washington Bus team made over 600 get-out-the-vote calls and sent over 30,000 text messages. They also hosted a get-out-the-vote concert and campus voter drives.
In 2018, Engage Miami organized to win three early voting sites at Miami-Dade and for the primary election this year, that’s where they focused their turnout efforts. The Engage team gave over 160 class presentations, reaching over 4,000 students, where they shared information young people needed to be successful, informed voters. They also had countless conversations about the primary and handing out our local artists-designed “I Voted” stickers and primary voter information cards. Engage Miami turned some of these class presentations into Vote Together parties, where the class would head to the polls to cast their ballots together! Since Florida is a closed primary state, Engage also made a push at registering and updating people before the deadline. They collected over 2,000 forms and hosted a “Raise Your Voice” voter registration event in partnership with a local record store.
Chicago Votes celebrated a historic primary election as Cook County Jail became the first-ever jail polling location! With the passage of Senate Bill 2090, their Voting in Jails bill, voters who are eligible and incarcerated were given access to vote. Over 1,200 voters being held pretrial voted at Cook County Jail during Illinois’ primary election! Chicago Votes also partnered with Chicago Public Schools and local colleges to host seven Parades To The Polls, taking students to cast their ballots during early voting. They created a voter guide educating Chicagoans on the judicial and State’s Attorney candidates. They distributed over 260,000 printed guides in communities across the city and reached close to 353,000 people with their digital guide online.
In conjunction with being the first to call on our legislatures to postpone the April 7th in-person election because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) sent over 200,000 texts to Wisconsin voters, reached over 350,000 people via digital ads and directed over 11,500 people to request absentee ballots by mail. On election day we handed out protective gear, collected stories, and continued to call out our state leaders regarding the irresponsible decision to keep polling places open.
This was the first year that the Kansas Democratic primary used ranked-choice voting. Alliance partner organization, Loud Light, produced this explainer video that walked voters through the process of how how to fill out and submit a ranked-choice ballot. Their efforts helped demystify the new voting process that can be confusing for new voters and returning voters alike. They are also conducting research to better address the issues surrounding students with dorm addresses not getting their ballots forwarded to their homes.
In Ohio, the March 17th primaries were cancelled at the last-minute leaving millions of people unable to vote in person. Informing voters how to vote absentee was critical because 85% of Ohioans vote in-person. So, Ohio Student Association (OSA), along with coalition partners, launched a campaign to educate voters on how to submit absentee ballots. OSA and their coalition partners recruited nearly 400 volunteers sent over 800,000 text messages, initiating conversations with 221,000 Ohio voters. OSA also produced a video, “How to Vote in the Ohio 2020 Primary” instructing people how to vote absentee.
When Montana’s June primary moved to an all mail-in election, Forward Montana sprang into action. With the use of an online “Voter Hub”, Montana voters were able to receive up to date information on the how and where to vote in the 2020 Primary along with information on candidates and races up and down the ballot. Statewide field teams, volunteers, and interns made 16,500 calls and sent 15,315 text messages to young voters across the state leading up to Election Day. In light of COVID-19, virtual phone and text bank options gave volunteers tons of creative ways to be involved in GOTV work! Montana had the highest Primary voter turnout in recent history and Forward Montana is excited to build on that momentum as November nears.
As more states hold their primaries, Alliance organizations will be out in full force ensuring young people have everything they need to cast their ballots. Stay tuned for more!