Harnessing the Power of Youth Voters to Shape Our Future

Harnessing the Power of Youth Voters to Shape Our Future

By Yterenickia Bell and Sofia Costas | The Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights

Ahead of the 2024 elections, The Leadership Conference Education Fund has made a commitment to highlight the possibilities that voting brings for all of us. We know that by wielding our power at the ballot box, we can deliver for our communities. At the forefront of this mission stands the And Still I Vote campaign, which represents our dedication to engage, educate, and mobilize young voters of color with an emphasis on women across 11 priority states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin — where we’re aiming to reach 3.1 million women of color voters on or before Election Day.

The campaign is taking a very intentional and deliberate approach ahead of the elections to hear from young people who are engaged in the fight for our civil rights and who understand why protecting our voting rights is the key to securing a multiracial democracy that works for all of us.

For example, Shekinah sees voting as a way to influence leaders to make ethical and just decisions that align with her best interests and the interests of her community. Zaha sees voting as a tool for creating systemic change and a better future for her generation. And Aliza recognizes the disillusionment among young voters with the government’s ability to bring change, but she believes we can fight against the influence of special interests through our vote and ensure a fairer system for all.

In January, the And Still I Vote campaign began working with national coalition members and state partners to educate staff, allies, and voters on the critical need to engage young people who will make up more than half of the electorate in 2024. While the campaign is working to engage voters of color across the country, it is also strategically focused on engaging women of color voters in partnership with our state partners across those 11 states.

We are working within communities to empower our communities.

Our state partners know their communities best, and our campaign recognizes that. We are working together through strategic outreach and community engagement to provide accessible information about the electoral process — empowering people to make informed decisions aligned with their values.

We believe in the power of our vote to bring about the changes we need in our communities and based on the issues that young voters care about, which include justice reform, education, and reproductive health care — and as a result, it is imperative that we engage with voters early and support them by navigating and dismantling historical barriers that have discouraged participation among young voters of color and other vulnerable populations.

We know voting does not come without challenges, most of them put in place deliberately to target specific groups. But we also know that if our voices and votes did not matter, they would not be trying so hard to make us invisible. A majority of young voters say they will vote in 2024, but some need more information and support, according to a recent poll conducted by CIRCLE at Tufts University. We want to ensure young voters of color know they can reclaim their power at the ballot box and be the catalyst for the changes our communities need.

We believe that a key to connecting with young voters of color is the power of storytelling. Through narratives highlighting the tangible impact of voting on real people’s lives, And Still I Vote humanizes the electoral process, illustrating how individual actions contribute to the collective empowerment of communities. We want to create spaces for disseminating information, sharing personal stories, and cultivating a sense of community among young voters who may have felt marginalized by traditional political discourse. This includes highlighting stories from within people’s communities that resonate with their own.

Where do we begin:

Sign up to join our movement, share your story, become a poll worker, and make a plan to vote.

Early engagement is urgent and important — it’s never too early to connect with voters. In fact, doing so will be the key to successfully empowering young voters of color and dismantling historical barriers that have long discouraged their participation in the democratic process. We are focusing on three key strategies that will shape our engagement efforts leading up to the 2024 primary and general elections.

Join the movement with us to meet this moment at AndStillIVote.org 

Share your story: People’s experiences and perspectives matter. We are creating spaces for young voters of color to share their journey to inspire others and build a collective narrative of empowerment.

Become a poll worker: Taking an active role in ensuring the integrity of the electoral process is one of the most important roles young voters can play to secure our democracy. By becoming a poll worker, you can contribute to the smooth functioning of our democratic system and empower others to exercise their right to vote.

The And Still I Vote campaign is a call to action — an invitation for all to be active participants in the democratic process. Together, we can amplify the voices of our communities, wield our power, and pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable future with a multiracial democracy that works for all of us.

Yterenickia Bell is the senior director of the And Still I Vote program and Sofia Costas is a senior communications manager at The Leadership Conference Education Fund.

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