Youth, Vote! Step Up with Easy Digital Tools That Inform

Update, Nov. 6, 2018: VOTE today! If you need to know WHERE, put your address into GetToThePolls.com and out pops all your nearby official voting hubs!

Nov. 3, 2018 Instead of reliving the rage that put me in a Looney Tunes cartoon depiction of steam coming out of my ears reading the misguided missives of PoliSci majors who have never cast a vote, or disaffected youth choosing to step off vs step up for the 2018 Midterms, I’m going to ditch rhetoric for RESOURCES and recap the tools that can HELP students get informed with a quick click, and deep dive beyond the shallows with ease.

No one wants to be Wile E. Coyote teased off the cliff by his nemesis the Roadrunner…but that’s exactly what youth are doing when they ‘choose’ not to vote, it plays right into the hands of older policymakers who wrongly believe youth can’t be bothered to turnout and step up. As the viral PSA on ‘lame excuses’ purports, “If you wouldn’t let your grandparents pick your play list, why would you let them pick your representative who’s gonna determine your future?”

Now more than ever, digital resources are literally at your fingertips to help make informed voting easier. Check out a few below, or be complicit in your own splat off the cliff when decisions are made without you.

Quick Click Tools Inform Voters, Inspire Action

VoteSmart.org Mentoring millennials daily, I asked a house full if they knew of the site where you could ‘find your political soulmate’ by zapping in your zipcode to profile a comprehensive cheat sheet detailing which candidates “are closest to your views” as you click through yes or no topic areas from gun control to the environment, reproductive rights to student debt, marijuana, jobs in the economy and a host of other relevant data. “Vote Easy, Vote Smart.” They had no idea such a site existed.

OnPoint the new, FREE, Vote Smart Mobile app places facts at your fingertips, customized to the issues you’re most concerned with…or click on “I spy” in this massive data warehouse and voters see at a glance how CURRENT representatives have voted, and where they’ve received their funding. More? Plop in any of the federal politicians making the news in this ‘galaxy’ of nonpartisan data and up pops everything from special interest ratings to campaign gifts and even key speeches!

Ballot Ready.org: Not sure about all those ‘yes/no’ measures in your local election? Again, plop in your full address and one click brings up every candidate, referendum and position explained so you can debrief yourself BEFORE you fill out your ballot. All nonpartisan, all sharable with friends/family to encourage turnout and handy to bring with you into the voting booth

CampusElect.org: Another nonpartisan resource guide, you can access data easily by state, mapping research and distribution channels nationwide.

Youth, VOTE! No Lame Excuses

Ride to Vote: Access

Lyft Rides: 50% off on Voting Day! And in underserved communities, free rides, partnering with National Voter Registration Day and When We All Vote. Lyft is also giving their own employees time off to vote, so check your own employer on policy, you may be surprised. Uber also just announced a $10 off ride nationwide to jump on Lyft’s get out the vote campaign. The more the merrier, access is key.

Free Stamps

ProPublica.org details common barriers to nonvoters, with easy tips to overcome them, fast. Example?

Did you know that vote by mail ballots actually CAN be delivered without proper postage? There’s evidently an under the radar USPS slush fund ready to handle insufficient postage issues. Hopefully our nation will wise up with prepaid stamps as an easy to fix barrier by 2020, but for now, read this ProPublica piece and MAIL your ballot in whether you have postage correct or not!

Voices ARE Heard

ResistBot: No downloads or apps required, just text and in under TWO MINUTES, ResistBot enables you to sound off directly to your representatives with professional, personal missives on the matters you deem most important and want to weigh in immediately to be counted. Text the word “congress” to Resistbot on MessengerTwitterTelegram, or to 50409 on SMS and find out who represents you in Congress, delivering your message to your two Senators and representative stat.

Red/blue or purple, doesn’t matter… Just participate and sound off to hold your leaders accountable!

An Informed Voter Game

iCivics.org gaming and simulation scenarios provide inspiring FREE resources kids can relate to early on in classroom ready civic learning engagement using hands-on practice that familiarizes students with the voting process, boosts skills, and makes a habit of understanding the importance of voting and the youth voter role in making change.

Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor summed, “The practice of democracy is not passed down through the gene pool. It must be taught and learned anew by each generation of citizens.” Best reason to deploy a nonpartisan gaming for good approach in even the earliest school settings!

Peer to Peer: Purposeful Pressure to Turnout the Vote

PBS Student Reporting Labs: Over 300 interviews with students all over the nation share their voices and views on the issues that matter most to them. Listen to the lenses of those leading positive change as well as those shoulder shrugging with apathy to see for yourself how important it is to STEP UP vs step off the midterm voting issues and turnout Nov. 6, 2018! Tweet ready with video links to share the videos that resonate the most with you, these short clips yield some ‘aha’ moments as to why this all matters so much.

Eighteen by 18: Adding a celebrity spin and some peer to peer social media buzz, Now This and Yara Shahidi teamed up for a PR push for Turnout Tuesday, using hashtags like #WeVoteNext and Snapchat as vehicles to get youth engaged in the outcome of their own lives.

22X20.org Using innovation for education, this nonpartisan movement focuses on the 22 million teens who will turn 18 by the 2020 election and aims to habituate civic engagement and informed choice NOW. Taking a media literacy and critical thinking approach to educate students about misinformation, ad tactics, spin-spotting and more, this org meets students where they are asking them to create gifs, memes, and make media themselves, sharing it widely on Tumblr using a toolkit to “amplify and advocate” so students begin to see their voices and views shared across social media channels.

Voting Importance Over Voting Impotence

Unsure of a person or issue on the ballot? Leave that bubble blank.

Several young people I spoke with didn’t know they could still be counted on the issues they cared most about, while dodging the ones they didn’t know. This is not an SAT bubble test! Do not guess, just leave it blank if you’re not confident on a given issue.

Stressing the role of youth as stewards of the planet with a future forward focus directly impacted by lousy adult decision making at the polls seems like a no brainer, yet many youth also abdicate their role with a ‘what can I do’ shoulder shrug that’s misplaced and misguided given the strong indicators that outspoken youth can and DO lead change. Don’t get jaded, get active!

Whether it’s irreverent humor using some millennial stereotype slams, or single issue voter turnout pleas such as the March for Our Lives, Vote for Our Lives gun sense advocates led by survivors of the Parkland school shooting…there’s no question all eyes are on youth to use their voices and their media messaging savvy to make waves.

Just look at yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on the national stage, where youth mounted a legal challenge to the entire nation by suing the government for negligence on clean air, water and resources that will impact them long after the old guard making the decisions in government have vanished from the planet…note that youth ARE making a difference.

We all need you to step up, not step off.

TurnOut Tuesday…And every election beyond.

Related Resources and Reading Via Shaping Youth:

Shaping Youth: Kids & Voting: The Ultimate Show & Tell

Shaping Youth: Stagecrafting Politics: Media Literacy Tips for Kids

Shaping Youth: Vote Smart: Youth Hub for Critical Thinking Skills

Shaping Youth: Will Kids Pick the President?

Shaping Youth: Media Simulations Where Kids Cast Their Vote: Silly or Sage?

Shaping Youth: GovTweets: A Snapshot of Election Dialogue

Shaping Youth: Did Jott the Vote Decide to Move On?

Shaping Youth: Using Mobile to Mobilize: Tapping Into Youth Info Needs

Shaping Youth: Dear Media, Please Do Your Job…(Election Spinmeisters)

Civic Hall.org: Civic Tech News & Analysis from Civicist

Decoding Political Ads on Media Literacy Clearinghouse

Helpful/Related Frank Baker/Media Literacy Clearinghouse Posts:

Campaign Advertising: The Image Is Everything
Media-Visual Literacy and Presidential Politics
Campaign Ads: Helping Students Find The Truth
Media Literacy, Politics and Students

Visual Credit: Wile E. Coyote c. Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies Fair Use/Education

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