The Republican Party Sees the Power of the Youth Vote — Why Don’t We?

The Republican Party Sees the Power of the Youth Vote — Why Don’t We?

Radical right lawmakers are trying to make it harder for college students and young people to vote in states nationwide. They are suppressing the youth vote by enacting policies that bar students from being able to exercise their voting rights by using their student IDs, attempting to eradicate on-campus polling locations, and threatening to raise the voting age. Why? They recognize that young voters have helped decide the last several election cycles up and down the ballot and are doing everything possible to stop it.

As the CEO of Rise, and one of the youngest leaders in the democracy space at 25 years old, I am personally invested in the fight to ensure the voting rights of every college student and young person in America. Young people have always led change in this nation and today we hold the keys to its future. Since 2018, young voters have saved our democracy in places when and where it mattered the most: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Without young voters showing up in record numbers, the attacks on our democracy over the last several years would be far more severe.

Despite our key role, in 2022, only about half of young voters were contacted by a campaign or organization in the lead-up to the midterm elections, according to CIRCLE at Tufts University. This lack of outreach reflects outdated stereotypes that young people will not turn out. Campaigns and groups instead spend on outreach to older voters who they see as being more reliable. But why would young people show up if we don’t even bother talking to them? If we are expected to play a role in protecting democracy, pundits, consultants, and candidates cannot continue to ignore us.

That is why Rise is beginning our work in 2024 now and helping get out the vote in some key 2023 elections like Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court race. Our college students and youth organizers are registering voters, engaging them around our issues, and training thousands of young people to lead efforts on the ground to combat the attacks on the youth vote. Building a strong foundation now is an essential part of achieving our North Star goal of breaking the youth voter turnout record in 2024. Rise is building a movement with our partners to achieve 60% youth voting in 2024, a feat that would nearly erase the turnout gap between younger and older voters.

While we work to hit this milestone, we know that far right groups and lawmakers will do everything that they can to stand in our way. By undermining faith in elections and advancing measures that make it harder to vote because of bogus voter fraud claims, these forces do not want to see more youth participate. We have to fight to protect democracy while we also do the essential on the ground organizing work to win. What does that look like?

“As a leader of a civic engagement organization and, more importantly, as a young voter, I am issuing a Bat-Signal to those that see our democracy is hanging in the balance.”

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