“I vote because as long as we live in a country where there are people who do not have the freedom to exercise their right to vote because of ID laws or residency standards or any number of barriers that making voting challenging, then it is absolutely incumbent upon those who can, to vote.” - Maddie Zimmerman, IGNITE’s Madison Fellow
Young people get a bad rap when it comes to voter turnout, but IGNITE young women were determined to change that in the 2018 midterms. In the 2016 election, 90% of IGNITE young women eligible to vote reported voting compared to only 46% of their peers (CAWP). Their voting record sets a high bar for other young people in America.
IGNITE young women invested countless hours this past year to active the youth vote nationwide, challenging them to break the historical trend of low turnout:
“I've been mobilizing the youth vote because I want them to know young people have so much more power than we think we do. As one of the biggest demographic groups in America, when we all vote, we can change the way our representatives look. When we use this power, we change our communities for the better.” - Andrea Duarte-Alonso, IGNITE Twin Cities Fellow
Since early 2018 up to the November midterm, IGNITE college chapters, high school students, and Fellows have engaged tens of thousands of people nationwide through their voter activation efforts: registration drives, canvassing, educational workshops, online trainings, and discussions with friends, family, and neighbors about the importance of voting. They focused their efforts on registering mostly first-time, youth voters.
More recently, in the weeks leading up to the election, they focused their efforts on turning out the vote by helping community members locate their polling places, know their rights as voters, and create voting plans. IGNITE young women often candidly share their personal reasons to inspire others to get to the polls:
“My vote is not just for myself. There are people out there who don’t have the privilege, the voice or the resources to fight for themselves and quietly count on us to support and fight for them, I want to be their voice.” - Ayah Ziyadeh, IGNITE’s Denver Fellow
“As a U.S. citizen born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I did not have the right to vote in presidential elections until I moved to Massachusetts. I had to sit out the 2016 election and, ever since then, I have been on a personal campaign to make sure that people utilize their right to vote for the sake of those that are denied this right.” - Rae’Niqua Victorine, IGNITE’s Boston Fellow
Some young women, like Chalyna Lazo of IGNITE at San Francisco State University, are already thinking about how to keep up this momentum: “To energize young people to vote in future elections we have to help them learn about community issues and find a problem they are passionate about solving.” Kyra Solis, Co-President of the IGNITE chapter at Texas Woman’s University, credits Parkland for mobilizing young generations and believes “the best way to sustain this energy and get out the vote for future elections is to invest in the civic education and engagement of the younger generation and to help them realize that their voices are important and do matter”.
You can count on IGNITE young women to keep up the momentum of youth engagement in future elections. Look for them on the frontlines, mobilizing voters and turning them out on election day. Can they count on you to support their efforts?
IGNITE’s voter activation efforts were supported by incredible partners that allowed us to expand our voter activation outreach and capacity and create meaningful and lasting change. Thank you to the California Endowment, Cosmopolitan, GAP Inc, Rock the Vote, Viacom, and The Wing.
A note from Monique: IGNITE women are the new torchbearers of the women’s movement. They are leading the way toward a brighter and more equitable future for us all. I am grateful to have been a part of their empowerment process by connecting them with opportunities to get involved in voter activation activities which will help them develop their skills as a public servant and community leader. Our young women have given me hope, and I am confident that if we keep this momentum going and continue to IGNITE the fire in other politically ambitious young women, we will have put ourselves on a path toward a brighter future for us all.