Intensive focus targeting young voters, new Americans, and returning citizens
With the first primary elections of 2022 taking place, League of Women Voters volunteer teams are launching year-long voter registration campaigns to help Americans get ready to vote. We’re particularly excited about three major national initiatives: our Youth Voter Registration and New Citizens Voter Registration programs, as well as a new program designed to reach returning citizens.
Empowering Young People Towards a Lifetime of Voting
Since 2010, the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) has supported local Leagues in registering hundreds of thousands of first-time voters. This year, LWVEF is proud to announce our largest-ever Youth Voter Registration Program, to be carried out in nearly ninety communities this spring. League volunteer teams are scheduling voter registration drives in high school classrooms, community college campuses, technical schools, night schools, vocational training centers, and juvenile justice facilities to ensure that every eligible young person can register and vote.
Leveraging decades of expertise, nearly 100 League volunteer teams nationwide will talk one-on-one with tens of thousands of young people, helping them get registered, answering their questions about the voting process, and helping them spread the word about the importance of voting. They'll use a variety of innovative tactics to get students excited to vote.
In Upstate New York, one League plans to visit social studies classes at twelve area high schools and offer a video about registration to school libraries to reach any students they don’t meet in person. In Spokane, WA, League volunteers have offered voter registration to more than forty high school civics education classes — and they’re not slowing down! And in Detroit, volunteers are planning for a full circuit of school visits this spring, with plans to register students at high schools, community colleges, and 4-year campuses.
Our mission to empower young voters has never been more important, and we have a lot to be excited about. According to our partners at CIRCLE, despite a high level of uncertainty among young people about the state of our democracy, youth turnout increased dramatically during the 2020 election and young people may well be the deciding factor in pivotal 2022 elections.
Despite this good news, barriers among non-college young people persist and economic factors have a major impact on young people’s access to civic life. As always, our Youth Voter Registration Program is designed to specifically address and mitigate these disparities so that young people of every background can register and vote.
Registering the Newest Americans
At the same time, LWVEF is thrilled to be launching our 2022 New Citizens Voter Registration program, through which more than 30 local League teams will register new voters at over 1,200 citizenship ceremonies before November. A longtime staple of the League’s work, our new citizen voter registration efforts have been severely impacted by COVID-19, during which most in-person citizenship ceremonies have been halted or downsized. Leagues are working to safely get back to work, visiting citizenship ceremonies and offering brand-new Americans the opportunity to register to vote.
American democracy is increasingly shaped by new citizens, with newly naturalized Americans now comprising 1 in 10 eligible voters in the US. On a recent Monday in Minnesota, League volunteers helped over 800 new citizens get registered! In Houston, League volunteers expect to register over 7,000 new citizens at weekly ceremonies this year. Elsewhere, from South Carolina to the NYC suburbs, Leagues are working innovatively to not just register new Americans but ensure they’re ready to turn out to vote for the first time in 2022.
Engaging with Returning Citizens
LWVEF is also pleased to announce the launch of a pilot program to reach and register returning citizens. Previously incarcerated people are at a high risk of not having access to accurate information about their voting rights; Leagues nationwide are working closely with community partners to reverse that trend. From visiting jails and prisons, to teaming up with community programs serving returning citizens, our leaders in Florida, Chicago, Seattle, Wisconsin, Washington, DC, and elsewhere are working every day to reach these voters.
Ready to Help?
We’re ready to roll into the 2022 primaries with every tool at our disposal. We’re committed to registering and turning out millions of Americans this year. And we need your help! Here are just a few things you can do:
Talk to your friends and family about voting. When it comes to motivating the people in your life, nobody’s voice is as powerful as yours
If you know someone who has moved since the last election, they may need to re-register. Send them to VOTE411.org to get started
Brush off your clipboard! Get involved in local voter registration opportunities by contacting the League of Women Voters affiliate in your area
The Latest from the League
VOTE411 named Best Government & Civil Innovation Website in the 24th Annual Webby People’s Voice Awards
Thirty-one voting organizations and civil rights groups representing millions join When We All Vote Co-Chair Michelle Obama in pledge to fight for voting rights and organize voters in New York Times advertisement
Primary election season officially kicks off in March, when voters across Texas will weigh in on the issues that matter most to them. With many more primary elections scheduled this year, and with all of the House of Representatives and dozens of US Senate and Gubernatorial seats up for grabs in November, the results of this year’s elections will be felt for a long time to come.