State News

Our Lives, Our Vote initiative registers 50,000 young Americans in effort to harness the 'youth vote'

Image By: Jon Yoon and Jon Yoon

Our Lives, Our Vote — a nationwide initiative that aims to encourage voter registration among American youth — reached its program goal of registering 50,000 young Americans to vote, according to a statement released by the organization Thursday.

The nationwide partnership comprised of NextGen America, Giffords, Everytown for Gun Safety, and ACRONYM has invested over $1.8 million in teen voting registration efforts since last April.

Our Lives, Our Vote’s (OLOV) major affiliated cause is enacting safe gun reform legislation. The organization hopes to bring issues revolving around gun violence to a formal political platform, in addition to raising awareness and promote discussion of the debate throughout the country.

The initiative’s immediate goal is to promote young Americans to vote for candidates adhering to gun safety laws during the Nov. 6 midterms. OLOV plans to invest in 10 key states where NRA-aligned candidates are on the ballots, one of which includes Wisconsin.

“It’s especially important for us to mobilize the youth vote this election.” said Cecelia McDermott, March for our Lives state co-chair. “There are so many activists who are finally turning 18, who are finally able to vote. ”

The program hopes to appeal to young voters whose beliefs align with enacting gun safety reforms, in an effort to increase voter turnout supporting the cause. The initiative also awarded grants to various local organizations already engaged in voter registration efforts within their communities, including March for Our Lives, the Future Coalition and PLAN.

“If young people can double their 2014 national turnout in 2018 up to 34 percent, as happened in Virginia, that would provide an additional four million voters nationally,” the Brookings Institution noted.

Voting registration among young Americans is already rising.

A recent national poll by Harvard Institute of Politics found indicated that 37 percent of Americans under the age of 30 stated that they will “definitely be voting” compared to 23 percent in 2014.

In Wisconsin and across the country, the OLOV initiative hopes to continue the upward trend of registered voters in an effort to elevate the voices of young Americans.

“The youth vote is coming and if these politicians don't realize that this is coming, they’re going to get voted out in November and every November after,” said Max Prestigiacomo, a Middleton High School senior and activist. “Hopefully we can use this to lobby and get the long-awaited gun legislation we have been waiting for.”

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