Monday, April 1, 2024

Youth Vote 2024: What Afterschool Programs Can Do

Source: Ed Week

By Sam Piha
There is no better time for youth to be involved in making a change through the ballot box. We can frame these efforts as “meaningful participation”, “civic engagement”, “youth leadership” or “community service”. There are a number of organizations and initiatives that have designed curriculums, program tools and other materials to assist afterschool providers in their efforts to engage youth in the 2024 elections. Below we cite several things that afterschool programs and their youth participants can do in regards to the 2024 election. (This blog is an excerpt from our recently released briefing paper entitled, How Can Afterschool Programs Promote Civic Engagement and the Youth Vote in 2024.)

Don’t Wait- Start Program Planning NOW!
When we spoke to afterschool practitioners in the winter of 2024 about when afterschool programs should begin planning engagement activities, they all responded “now!”
Involve Youth

“There are many ways youth can be involved and one of the ways that we support is to provide a space for youth to discuss the topics, issues and challenges they feel are important to them and their communities, then, discuss the possible solutions and who can support the possible solutions and resolutions. This includes local, state and national elected officials. It's important that students continue to explore local officials and the causes that are on top for them.” - John Fuentes, Associate Director, Bay Area Community Resources
It is important to involve youth when considering any new program initiatives, enlisting new partners or funders. Perhaps youth participants can:
  • Provide input on the goals, strategies and activities
  • Identify partners in the community that might be appropriate for engaging youth in the 2024 election
  • Design and deliver thank you cards for any individuals and organizations that partner in any way
  • Organize and lead related discussions and activities
  • Get involved with issues that matter to them
  • Ask teachers and school to grow voters
  • Bring local politicians to their school or youth program
Address the Common Excuses Young People Cite for Not Voting
“Excuses, excuses! Young people find plenty of them not to vote. According to the Pew Research Center, of the roughly 138 million people who voted in the 2016 presidential election, only 13 percent were under the age of 30, while people over 65 accounted for 27 percent of the vote. What gives?” [i]

The video below examines common reasons that young people cite for not voting. Click on the image below to view this resource.

Source: Boston University

Address the Barriers to Voting for Youth Ages 18-29
There are many legitimate barriers to voting, as cited by youth. If we want to encourage youth to vote for the first time, it is essential that we understand the barriers to youth voting. See the graphic below.
Source: CIRCLE
Provide Voting Information 
A major barrier to voting is simply lack of information. According to CIRCLE, “Many young people are simply not taught about elections and voting in school; both the practicalities of registering and casting a ballot and the reasons why their voices and votes matter in democracy. Learn more
Voting in America is not a straightforward process. Registration deadlines and requirements are different in every state, voting may conflict with work and/or school, absentee voting rules can be confusing, voters may lack transportation to the polls, etc. Some of these barriers are especially acute for the youngest voters, who may struggle to update their voter registration when they move dorms each year in college, or who are less likely to have a driver's license to use as a voter ID. Learn more.

Because they're less likely to have a voting history or be seen as likely voters, many political organizations neglect youth outreach. In 2022, almost half of young people we surveyed (46%) said they were not contacted by any type of organization, candidate, or party. That can lead to a lack of information and confidence: 21% of youth in 2022 said it was because they didn't feel like they knew enough, and just 40% said they felt well-qualified to participate in politics. Learn more.” [ii]
  • Research issues and candidates: sponsor forums and make voter guides/informational handouts
  • Provide State-by-state information - Every state has different voting requirements. Click here to access a good State-by-state tool.
  • Review the ballot with youth so they understand what’s on it and how to use it.
  • Where to go to vote?
About Absentee Voting or Voting by Mail
“Absentee voting allows you to vote before Election Day by mail or drop box. Learn how to get an absentee ballot, cast your vote, and meet voting deadlines. Although every state has absentee voting, deadlines and rules on who can take part vary. In most states, you will need to request an absentee ballot to vote in each election. But in some states, you may qualify to receive absentee ballots permanently. Learn if you can vote absentee for every election in your state.

Get your absentee ballot from your state or territory. Visit Can I Vote and choose your state from the dropdown menu. It will take you right to your state's absentee voting page.

Your state may require you to have a valid excuse to vote absentee. Acceptable excuses vary by state.” [iii] 
Misinformation and News literacy
According to the News Literacy Project, “The 2024 election season will be among the most closely followed in American history, and as in past years, it also will attract a flood of mis- and disinformation. A new development this year is the rise of artificial intelligence technologies, which can create sophisticated fabrications and distortions that challenge our ability to identify what’s real and what’s not like never before.

The News Literacy Project is working to ensure that you know how to discern fact from fiction and can make well-informed voting decisions when you go to the polls.” [iv] 

The News Literacy Project has several tools and activities for youth to decern fact from disinformation. 

Preparing First Time Voters: Help Youth Create a Voting Plan
“Vote planning is a technique to ensure voters turnout to the polls. The goal of a vote plan is to encourage an individual to envision themselves voting and identify any potential barriers they might have or encounter. You can make a vote plan for yourself or with someone when phone banking, canvassing, or in normal conversation. Develop a vote plan by asking questions such as: 
  • What time will you be voting? 
  • Where are you voting? 
  • Do you have a mail-in ballot or are you going to the polls? 
  • How are you getting there? 
  • Do you need a ride? 
  • Who else can you bring with you? 
  • Do you need to take off school or work or secure childcare? 
  • In states with voter I.D. laws: Do you have all the necessary documents to vote?  
Answering these questions will help youth plan how to vote and ensure you and your community members are able to cast your ballots.” [v]

[iv] News Literacy Project, Election 2024: Be informed, not misled
[v] National Council of Jewish Women, Create A Voting Plan


Almost every day there is a piece in the news about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its dangers. AI is all around us, and whether or not you realize it, people use artificial intelligence every single day. Many young people, even those who are very tech savvy, know little about this topic. Adults, including those in afterschool programs, know even less. Yet, AI is being used by companies more and more. As we venture deeper into the digital age, understanding AI and its educational potential becomes more crucial than ever.

We believe that youth need to understand more about AI, and afterschool is a perfect place to do this. But are afterschool leaders equipped for this? It’s important for educators to understand AI so they can help their youth make sense of a technological development that is predicted to be a huge force in the world, experts say. It’s crucial for educators to be AI literate, to be able to explain what it is, and to understand its powers and limitations.

To learn more and register, click here.

The 2024 election offers a number of opportunities to engage older youth in civic engagement. But these opportunities require input from youth, organizing and planning- so start program planning early because there is no better time for youth to be involved in making a change than through the ballot box. We can frame these efforts as “meaningful participation”, “civic engagement”, “youth leadership” or “community service.”

This webinar will review the benefits of youth engagement in the elections and what programs can do to encourage youth involvement and voting. We will also talk about how to involve youth in voter registration and determine what news is reliable and which is misinformation. We will also talk about how youth who are under 18 and unable to vote can be involved.

To learn more and register, click here.

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Youth Vote 2024: Benefits of Youth Civic Engagement

Source: By Sam Piha The 2024 election offers a number of opportunities to engage older youth. But these opportunities require i...