Posts Tagged ‘voting’

Votes for Youth: A Campaign Begins!

May 18, 2012

Across America, a campaign is launching.  It is a struggle for that most precious right of American democracy: the right to vote.  While the vote does not guarantee anything, without it even the most cherished rights can be stripped away without penalty.

For millions of Americans the right to vote is simply a dream.  They watch friends and family cast their ballots wondering why they too can’t make their voices heard.  They have strongly held beliefs about the economy, or the environment or foreign policy. They know as much about politics and government, maybe more, than most voters. Yet they are denied this most basic right.

For millions of Americans, the time to sit by and take their disenfranchisement is over.  Now is the time to act.  These Americans, like their brethren around the globe, are organizing, working, struggling and demanding their own suffrage right:  Votes for Youth!

Votes for Youth is a youth-led movement to enfranchise young people in the United States by lowering the voting age.

High school aged students want the right to vote and need the right to vote to protect their interests and make their voices heard.  Votes for Youth joins the tradition of other youth enfranchisement movements like the UK’s Votes at 16.  Youth have also played a role in current efforts to lower the voting age elsewhere around the globe, including  Scotland, Australia, Canada and Estonia.  Austria has already lowered its voting age to 16, as have Brazil and Ecuador.

The American effort to lower the voting age has been around for years, but largely under the radar.  In 2008, high school student leaders at the National Youth Rights Association produced the first campaign ad for a lower voting age, which aired in Washington D.C.

The 2012 Votes for Youth campaign is a broad effort to expand the youth suffrage movement nationwide, by all means available.  Youth will be protesting, but they will also be blogging, tweeting, writing letters to the editor and contacting local, state and national leaders.  Look for youtube videos by ordinary young people, explaining why they want and need the right to vote.

If you would like to learn more, please go to NYRA Launches Votes for Youth Campaign.  For reason WHY the voting age should be lowered (in case you’re not completely convinced), check out Top 10 Reasons to Lower the Voting Age and the Voting Age Talking Points.

Occupy the Ballot Box: A Brief History of Youth-Led Campaigns to Enfranchise Young People

March 19, 2012

Some of you may think that the movement to empower people under 18 to vote in America is something new, something unheard of, something shocking. Actually, it has a rich history going back at least into the 1990s.

1998

In 1998, the first protests were organized to lower the voting age, as part of the “Operation Register” campaign of YouthSpeak, an internet based youth rights organization founded by a 15 year old high school student. On May 22, 1998, saw protests across America in support of youth suffrage. In Santa Monica, California, the protest was particularly successful:

On Friday, May 22nd, over 25 young people, ages 13 to 17, from local schools gathered in front of the Midnight Special Bookstore on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to participate in Operation Register, a national campaign to lower the legal voting age. The protest was organized locally by AMP, the Association of Minor Persons, an organization made up of minors and adult supporters committed to promoting the rights, interests and voices of young people in the United States. Protesters carried signs and handed out information, drawing a small crowd of interested adults and young people. At least thirty people stopped by to ask questions.

To learn more about the 1998 “Operation Register” campaign, go to YouthSpeak’s Press Release.

2000

In November 2000, another protest effort occurred, culminating in a protest at the Capital on Election Day. It was covered by Slate Magazine.

Lower the Vote protests were planned for Election Day in 14 states, including California, Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts. [ . . . ] According to its Web page, Lower the Vote is a partnership of various youth rights organizations and independent organizers all committed to lowering the voting age in the United States of America. We believe that the current voting age denies millions of deserving U.S. citizens the fundemental [sic] right to vote and should be lowered.

(See Timothy Noah, “Should the Voting Age be Lowered”, November 8, 2000, Slate Magazine)

2004

In March 2004, Robert Reynolds and the his Berkley High School (California) Progressive Club (later NYRA-Berkley) had a plan for California’s primary election day:

Berkeley High School students who want the right to vote plan to picket a polling place during Tuesday’s California primary.

The school’s Progressive Club has been working to lower the voting age to 16 since late last year.

On Tuesday some members plan to go inside a polling place and request ballots, much like Susan B. Anthony and her fellow suffragists did in Rochester, N.Y., in 1872. Some will picket outside the polling place at Hearst Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

(“Berkeley High club campaigns to lower voting age to 16;Students plan to picket polling place during Tuesday’s primary before going to classes” The Daily Review (Hayward, CA) March 1, 2004)

On election day, Reynolds and his group did what voting rights protesters have done throughout history:

[. . .] Robert Reynolds headed for the polls at the local senior center, where he politely requested a ballot from a graying, middle-aged woman. She glanced at his youthful face, and then brusquely turned him away. Undaunted, Reynolds, a 17-year-old high school junior, then exercised a democratic right — staging a demonstration with a handful of schoolmates. They chanted slogans and toted signs; one read, “No Taxation Without Representation.”

(Bobby Caina Calvin, “Californians Consider Granting 14 Year Olds the Right to Vote, Youth Suffrage Effort Sweeps US”, Boston Globe, April 25, 2004).

2008

In the fall of 2008, NYRA’s Southeast Florida Chapter took their efforts to lower the voting age to the next level. They produced a television commercial the first EVER to air in the United States in support of a voting age under 18. Here is another look at that awesome ad, which aired on Washington DC television!

The group also received positive news coverage for their efforts, as the following news piece indicates.

Finally, NYRA-Nanuet a prominent chapter in Upstate New York also received news coverage for its efforts to lower the voting age and empower teens to get involved.

This only the briefest summary of youth-led grassroots voting age efforts over the last 14 years. There are many, many more than this blog can summarize. But remember, the best is yet to come as 2012 will mark the most significant effort yet to to lower the voting age! Join our movement and help make history!

Election 2012: The “I Want My Vote!” Campaign Begins!

March 10, 2012

All over the world, the movement to lower the voting age is growing: from Scotland, to Canada to Estonia people are waking up to the need for youth to have their voice heard in electing the leaders who will so greatly impact their future. Now it’s America’s turn!

In 2012, during this critical election year, young people of all ages are demanding more than mere promises or platitudes from politicians. They are raising their voices as one, to declare- “I Want My Vote!”

The “I Want My Vote” campaign is about young people, of all ages, of all politics and points of view, working together to bring about change.

Look for protests across America, in big cities and timely towns.
Young people will be speaking out, demanding the rights so many adults take for granted!
Check back here regularly for updates on key developments! Or better yet, Subscribe to this Blog!

And if you want to learn more about WHY the voting age must be lowered, check out the National Youth Rights Association’s excellent Top 10 Reasons to Lower the Voting Age and Voting Age Talking Points.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown Supports Lowering the Voting Age

December 3, 2009

While few politicians in America have yet come out in support of a lower voting age, in the United Kingdom none other than the Prime Minister Gordon Brown has stated that he supports lowering the voting age to 16.

In particular, he said

We had a commission on lowering the voting age and it couldn’t make up its mind, so it’s come back to us. I personally would like to see the voting age reduced to 16.

As the article points out, “Any reduction in the voting age would have to be accompanied by improved citizenship education in schools.”

So why not here in America? Why not try a lower voting age, at least at the local level! I encourage everyone to contact your city council member or state representative and urge them to introduce a legislation to lower the voting age at the local or state level. We can do this!

Teens Produce Commercials For Lower Voting Age

April 29, 2009

History was recently made when the National Youth Rights Association’s South East Florida Chapter created the first commericals ever urging a lower voting age!
The chapter, composed of high school students from the West Palm Beach area, wrote and produced the ads, which aired on Washington D.C. cable tv last fall. These commercials are the first salvo on the coming push by young people themselves to lower the voting age to empower themselves to improve America. Check out the commercials and a related tv-news story below. And provide some comments!

    Commercial



    News Story


So Why Lower the voting Age?

March 26, 2009

Your first question may be Why lower the voting age at all? Isn’t eighteen perfectly appropriate.
Here are my thoughts. Please add your own in the comments section.  There are really two central lines of argument.

  • Youth need the right to vote

On issue after issue, youth are most deeply and long-lastingly affected by the major problems that affect our society.  Whether it’s  climate change (which will affect them long after we are gone), the budget debt (which is on their backs) or social security (which they may never receive).  Additionally, most sixteen and seventeen year-olds work, and all youth under 18 pay over $9.7 billion taxes alone.

  • Lowering the Voting Age Would Encourage the Life Long Voting Habit

Allowing teens to vote at a younger age (say 16) would set youth on the path to lifelong voting.  Why?  Teens who are 16 or 17 usually live at home, most in communities they have resided for many years. They are often closely tied to those communities, and keenly feel local political developments (whether changes in education quality or city curfew laws). On the other hand, many 18 year olds are in a new community (often away at school). But even if still at home they are usually occupied by full-time work or college. Thus, high school students are more likely to exercise their right to vote than their college siblings would be.