Young people play an essential role in elections
Youth engagement at the polls in Arizona rose high this past election, and NextGen Arizona believes young people have the potential to play an essential role in future elections.
Arizona Capitol Reports says NextGen Arizona “had a major impact in 2018 midterm elections” with its efforts to register and encourage youths to vote.
Due to the efforts by NextGen Arizona, 27,707 youths registered to vote, resulting in a 35 percent voter turnout increase of people ages 18-35. NextGen Arizona’s staff and vast volunteer network knocked on 88,009 doors during the election cycle.
Phoenix Union High School District is also doing its part to increase civic engagement with students. By implementing the two-week long Participatory Budgeting Project last year, 1,870 students were registered to vote in real elections, said Cyndi Tercero, family and community engagement manager for Phoenix Union’s student and family services division.
Slideshow: National Voter Registration Day and Participatory Budgeting Project photos courtesy of Phoenix Union High School District
The project called for students to submit ideas that they thought would improve the school to be approved by the district and placed on ballots. The students then voted on the initiatives in a process that simulated a real election. Schools were allotted $7,000 or $4,000 – depending on the school size – to move forward with the winning projects.
“We wanted to provide students an opportunity to learn [about] democracy and civic engagement by doing, cultivate a culture of connectedness and develop agency and social responsibility,” Tercero said. “It was important for us to elevate student voice and empower students to be decision makers.”
In addition, about 500 Phoenix Union High School District students registered to vote during National Voter Registration Day events on Sept. 25, 2018, Tercero said.
“Since we also include voter registration at all of our graduation rehearsal days, that number is even higher for our annual total,” Tercero said.
Infographic by TaMeia Murphy
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