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Young Voters Will Have a Huge Say in 2018

November 6th 2017

NextGen America

One year ago, Donald Trump shocked the world. One year from now, young voters will do the same thing.

Young Voters

Many of us would like to forget November 2016, when despite years of hard work, sweaty days registering voters and corralling volunteers, and the potential to make history electing the first female President, the candidate who lost the popular vote became the leader of the free world.  Since then, we have seen something tremendous happen. A grassroots movement—bolstered by new leaders, new organizations, new faces, and new rallying cries—is standing up to Donald Trump and is planning to beat him where it really hurts: at the ballot box in 2018.

The real sweet spot of this movement is young people.

In so many ways, young Americans have stepped up to this moment to be the bulwark standing up to Trump. First off, only 37 percent of young Americans voted for Trump—and we can assume that a big chunk of the 50 percent of young people who didn’t cast ballots in 2016 were unenthusiastic about the presidential race. And when you look at who has been standing up for progressive values since Trump’s election, you’ll see a pretty impressive group of Americans who are overwhelmingly young.

There are folks like Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid (as well as young people they’ve inspired, like Gyree Durante), who started a national conversation in 2016 about police brutality and institutional racism when they decided to #TakeAKnee.


That conversation has grown into a nationwide movement since Trump attacked the overwhelmingly young athletes of the NFL. There are young elected officials taking risks to get progressive policy priorities passed in city halls around the U.S. Not to mention the remo than 121 millennial candidates that have announced runs for office up-and-down the ballot to counter the Trump phenomenon. Unsurprisingly, the candidates are nearly half women, and half people of color.

And in August, a young activist made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for what she believed in. Heather Heyer and hundreds of other young counter-protesters showed up in Charlottesville to speak out against racism, hate, and bigotry. We will never forget Heather or her bravery, and now more than ever, young people are determined to honor Heather’s memory by pushing back against racism, hate, and bigotry harder than ever before. In the week after her death, organizers registered over 1000 young voters in Charlottesville alone.

If the activism described above suggests one thing — it is that young people will stop at nothing to hold Trump accountable.

That’s why in June, we launched NextGen Rising — a massive grassroots effort in seven battleground states to increase youth participation in elections and our democracy. Since then, we’ve already started making difference. In California, during October recess, our organizers and student volunteers delivered over 10,000 petition signatures demanding the passage of a clean Dream Act to vulnerable Republican California Congressmen. In Virginia, where the most important election of 2017 is taking place on Tuesday, November 7, NextGen Rising organizers have registered 20,169 young people. As of November 1st, we’ve had more than 550 individual volunteers taking action and collecting over 9,831 in-person commitments to vote from young people.

And that’s just the beginning of what we will do. Over the next year, from dorm rooms to classrooms to breweries and work sites, NextGen Rising will work to register, motivate, and turnout at least 500,000 progressive young Americans. That work begins in earnest today, #OneYearOut from the 2018 elections, where at the College of Southern Nevada, a community college in Clark County, organizers will lift up the stories of first-and-second generation immigrants pressuring elected officials to prioritize immigration reform. At Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, students will host a "Countdown Carnival" to count down the 365 days and 365 reasons they're voting in their 2018 gubernatorial and senate races, as well as congressional and state legislative ones. In Bethlehem, Pennslyvania, dozens of supporters will be knocking on doors to turn out the youth vote for local and statewide elections happening this Tuesday.


Beyond the hundreds of volunteers mobilizing #OneYearOut, we have even more reasons to be optimistic about for our efforts for next year. First, the 2018 elections look a lot like 2006, when an unpopular Republican President saddled the incumbent party (which controlled the House and Senate) with dismal poll numbers, resulting in  youth turnout at its highest point for any midterm election. Youth turnout led to Democrats capturing control of both chambers of Congress and helped grow the energy needed to elect President Barack Obama.

Secondly, there are more young people eligible to vote than ever before—thanks to a combination of increased immigration and the the sheer size of our parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, producing the millennial generation—the largest generation of Americans ever. And we’ve seen that on-the-ground, peer-to-peer organizing works with young voters. We saw increases in young voter turnout in 2016 in communities where organizing was actually taking place, where campaigns and institutions were actually investing time, energy, and money in trying to motivate young voters.

Young people are progressive and will make the difference in 2018. So, with #OneYearOut, we’re asking you to join us too! What’s your reason for voting for next year?

Join us—share your reason with #OneYearOut and visit nextgenamerica.org/oneyearout