Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Youth Voice - Youth Vote

Youth don’t vote. 
They don’t care.
They don’t know.
And they don’t matter. 
That’s the myth.  

It’s time to shatter that myth.


DC is in a crisis. The rate of individuals becoming homeless is skyrocketing: over half of the homeless families are headed by youth parents. Youth can’t get jobs: less than half of the city’s 20 – 24 year olds are able to find full time employment. Youth with jobs can’t afford housing: DC has lost more than half of its low-cost rental units and 72 percent of its low-value homes. The system is broken and people are suffering.

But if you listen to some politicians talk, they say the city is doing great. There are nicer restaurants, flashy retail stores, and more apartment buildings. Why do they only talk about this part of DC? Because they think only certain people vote.

The Democratic primary on April 1st is a critical election in DC. There are nine mayoral candidates running for a single Democratic ticket, then, the winner of the April 1st primary will face the Independent and Republican candidates on November 4th. Youth have the power to sway this election. They can have their voice heard by voting in the Democratic primary. So where do you start:

1.)    Register. You can register on the DC Board of Elections website OR look up your polling place and register day of. It’s simple.
2.)    Educate yourself. If you care about jobs, homelessness, etc., then we’ve got you covered. All Democrat mayoral, ward, at-large, and council chair candidates answered a youth survey we produced. You can compare the candidates’ answers on our website.
3.)    Educate your friends. If they live in this city as well, they have an obligation to vote, so tell them. Share the #ivoteDC video through social media, tell them about how to register, and debate about the candidates.  Be an advocate for your hot topic issues by sharing your knowledge with others. 
4.) Stay Engaged. Tweet at the candidates! Force them to get on your level, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they respond. We also want to stay engaged with you! Tell us @DCAYA why you are voting locally with the hashtag #ivoteDC. We’ll make sure to share!

5.) Vote. If you can’t get off work on April 1st, vote early. Here’s the info on how to vote early.
By the way, when we talk about youth, we mean ALL youth. So if you are young and just moved here and are wavering about whether or not to change your voter registration to DC, remember - you live here, you work here, you purchase your groceries here, you should be voting here as well. As a community member, you have the obligation to vote for what is best for you and your neighbor.

So we hope to see you via Instagram & Twitter at the polls April 1st! #ivoteDC

Because your vote is your voice, so let it be heard.

Katie Dunn is a policy analyst at DC Alliance of Youth Advocates. Along with advocating on behalf of homeless youth and expanded learning programs, Katie  works on voter and candidate outreach. If you would like to get in touch with Katie you can follow her on Twitter at @kdunntweets or email her at

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