Rock the Vote has launched its municipal election engagement pilot to encourage participation of young voters in the Los Angeles City election on March 7.
Historically, Rock the Vote has offered robust election reminders and ballot information, and the organization seeks to enhance this work by adding municipal voter guides and deepening strategic partnerships with state and local organizations in order to increase understanding between voters and local candidates seeking elected office.
For its Los Angeles pilot, Rock the Vote partnered with United Way of Greater Los Angeles, YVote, and additional local partners to identify local issues of priority for young Angelenos and to create a comprehensive voter guide addressing those issues. The nonpartisan voter guide is accessible through Rock the Vote’s Election Center, featuring information on the Mayoral, City Council, and School Board candidates using submitted videos, footage captured at candidate forums, and online questionnaires.
“Our municipal election pilot program is directly informed by feedback from young voters. It’s not been enough to provide sample ballot information – they want to know who candidates are and how local elected offices impact the issues that matter to them,” says Jen Tolentino, Rock the Vote’s Director of Policy and Civic Tech. “When local candidates speak directly to the concerns of young voters and engage on issues most important to us, our generation – the most diverse in history – becomes more empowered to make our voices heard at the ballot box.”
To ensure that the voter guide is effective and relevant to young voters in Los Angeles, Rock the Vote partnered with California-based YVote to advise on questions and priority issues. YVote and Rock the Vote are additionally collaborating around on-the-ground efforts to increase voter turnout ahead of the municipal election.
“This last fall over a million 18-24 years olds voted in the General election, which comprised only 58% of turnout compared to seniors who had an 83% turnout. These numbers alone are the reason why it is so important that collaborations like this one are happening,” stated Mynor Godoy, YVOTE Coordinator. “We expect a drop in turnout in this municipal election, but with YVOTE our main focus is to build relationships with young voters so they are better equipped for all elections no matter how big or small. We have successfully done this through workshops, phone banks, and Hustle – a text message app. By reaching out to young voters through their cell phones and texting with relatable material, we are sure that we will begin to change the trend of young voters having low turn-out.”
United Way’s LA Youth Vote program hosted three candidate forums focused on the LAUSD races, moderated by high school students. United Way worked with Rock the Vote to provide footage from forums, as candidate responses from the forums inform the LAUSD portion of the voter guide. “We created the LA Youth Vote program specifically to address the gap between school board candidates and young voters. Rock the Vote was a great partner in this work to increase the attendance and reach of the candidate forums. We’re excited to see how this new way of distributing information to young people will increase their engagement in local elections,” stated Elmer G. Roldan, Director of Education Programs and Policy at United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
Following the launch of the Los Angeles City voter guide for March 7 elections, Rock the Vote will continue to work with local partners across the country to develop new methods to inform and engage young voters in local elections. For partnership opportunities, please contact Shaneice Simmons at email@example.com
About Rock the Vote: Rock the Vote is the largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization in the country driving the youth vote to the polls. Since 1990, Rock the Vote has fused pop culture, music, art and technology to fulfill its mission of building long-term youth political power. During the past six Presidential elections, Rock the Vote ran the largest voter registration drives for young people and has partnered with more than 25,000 partners through its online, multilingual voter registration tool. Rock the Vote is dedicated to mobilizing the vote, protecting voting rights and advocating for an electoral process and voting system that works for the Millennial generation, America’s largest and most diverse population in history. To get Rock the Vote updates on upcoming events, election reminders and candidate, visit RocktheVote.com . Engage on social media, by following Rock the Vote on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @rockthevote.
About YVote: YVote is an alliance of more than 15 community-based organizations who work to strengthen California’s future by increasing the impact of young voters and transforming the electorate to reflect the majority of California. Now there are more than 4 million potential young voters of color in California who could have a big impact in elections. Our votes can determine whether we prevent cuts to schools and local services or limit spending on prisons. Already we have seen the impact young voters have had in raising issues that matter to them — from the rise of student debt to the lack of economic opportunity. It is time for us to take back the vote in California. If we want more schools and fewer prisons; if we want more economic opportunity and less debt, then it’s up to us. We have to use our power and vote.
About United Way LA: United Way of Greater Los Angeles is a nonprofit organization that creates pathways out of poverty by helping homeless people move into housing, providing students with the support they need to graduate high school prepared for college and the workforce, and helping hard-working families become financially stable. United Way identifies the root causes of poverty and works strategically to solve them by building alliances across all sectors, funding targeted programs and advocating for change. For more information, visit www.unitedwayla.org.