Youth voter turnout in elections has historically been low, although it rose in the 2020 election. New Voters, a Chester County-based and student-run non-profit organization, seeks to register 1 million high school students to vote by 2024.

The organization also is trying to reduce teen vaccine hesitancy along with their appeals to young people to register to vote and become civically engaged in their communities.

“Our current initiative is to encourage teens to get vaccinated against COVID-19 through our Teens Get the Vaccine campaign. Teens Get the Vaccine is aimed at combating youth vaccine hesitancy through recruiting and educating student leaders to host vaccine hesitancy campaigns in their high schools,” Gabbie Burton, New Voters press intern, said.

Afia Asamoah, the group’s policy intern, said their overall mission is “to register high school students to vote and empower them to be civically engaged.”

“One of the most common reasons for low youth turnout is that the youth have been told that their vote doesn’t matter and their voice cannot or should not be heard. High school students then feel unable to make a difference,” Asamoah said. “Our mission is to change that attitude and to show that the youth voice does matter.”

The group just wrapped up a “Week of Action” that included training as well as action days aimed at providing resources for students to better understand how they can make the greatest impact in their individual states.

The event was “a direct embodiment of the Policy Department’s mission here at New Voters: to educate and inspire young people, promote advocacy, and increase civic engagement through hands-on campaigning,” Asamoah said.

Asamoah said the idea for the “Week of Action” and the virtual events was formulated after other summits that they’ve hosted to show advocacy efforts in major cities across the nation.

“On July 9, our team hosted a training day for the week of action, which featured guest speakers from various organizations that advocate for social issues such as the New Georgia Project and Common Cause,” Asamoah said.

“The objective for our training day was for students to absorb valuable knowledge about organizing and employ these strategies in their work during action days. This past week, we have met with students from different states on Zoom and emphasized the power of local and state-level civic engagement, communication, and uplifting your voice as a young person,” she said. “Our goal for the Week of Action is to promote civic engagement among youth throughout the country, and equip them with the tools to encourage their peers to do the same.”

New Voters’ Policy Department members try to serve as a resource to young people in the area.

“From bolstering their commitment to advocacy in their communities to creating state-specific action guides that include information about voter pre-registration, statistics about the youth vote in their state and how to reach out to their state officials in order to enact significant changes,” Asamoah said.

“Over the past few days, our action days have inspired students from Arizona to Florida to share what they have learned with their peers and even plan voter registration drives at their schools. We hope to reach even more students from different U.S. regions and help to strengthen the voices of this next generation of voters,” Asamoah said.

According to Burton, the organization is also focusing on the relaunch of their spring youth vaccine hesitancy campaign for the upcoming back-to-school season.

“We also have new intern cycles every season so we are always getting new voices and fresh perspectives,” Burton said.

As far as collaboration outside of the organization, New Voters works with high school student leaders to run voter registration drives in their schools and support them by providing the resources that they may need for the drives and to educate students.

“Community members can help support our efforts by donating through the link on our website or our GoFundMe page as well as participating in our events whether they be through Zoom or in person,” Burton said. “The most efficient way to support our efforts is to encourage everyone you know to sign up to run a voter registration drive and help spread the importance of civic engagement.”

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