Young people have powerful insights on what is going on in their communities — and they are fearless in defying the status quo to push for change. However, they often miss out on a key opportunity to make their voices heard: voting. In Daly City, for example, only 14% of youth turned out at the June elections.
Youth Organizing San Mateo County has been working tirelessly this election cycle to change these statistics.
Over the last month, they launched an aggressive educational campaign, blasting content including the above slick instructional video, produced with the help of YLI youth media program VoiceWaves, on social media platforms to get youth registered and out to the polls.
On Thursday, October 12th, in partnership with teachers at Westmoor High School, they organized the Daly City Candidates Forum for Youth. The weeks and months leading up to elections are crammed with such forums; almost none target youth or are even youth-friendly. This means that youth have little opportunity to learn about local issues and candidates, and that candidates fail to hear directly from youth about the issues most important to them.
Attended by over 75 youth ages 16-25, the Forum launched with a presentation by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, which shared criticaldetails to help young people navigate the voting process, including:
- Their right to pre-register at 16, which primes youth to think about civic engagement at an earlier age and ensures that they start receiving ballots as soon as they turn 18
- New rules on the voting process related to the Voters’ Choice Act in San Mateo County
- Translation services
- Their right to claim two paid hours from their employers to go to the polls
The presentation was followed by a panel, where candidates for City Council shared their platforms and answered questions from the audience. Questions revolved around:
- Resources for mental health services
- Rent control, affordable housing, and the rapid displacement of low-income communities
- Increasing the minimum wage and other economic opportunities for working class families
Voter registration tables encouraged youth to register onsite, and the program wrapped with a raffle and performances from Westmoor High School dance groups, Ace Club, Polynesian Club, and GQ Specialist.
*Thanks to City Council Candidate Rod Daus-Magbual, Westmoor High School, and Holly Lim for their support in organizing the Forum; Westmoor High’s Ace Club, Polynesian Club, GQ Specialist for their stunning performances; and to Ruby Ibarra for donating concert tickets!