Register to Vote

Voting is a mechanism by which you can make change but it’s not the only one. That being said I think it’s still important for every young person in the United States to recognize the privilege that they have in registering to vote and having the ability to vote on election day. There’s so many ways for you to get involved in what’s happening around you. Here are some ways you can get involved in the civic engagement process. Know that some of these opportunities may be limited to New York State, which is why I’m encouraging you to do some research and find out how you can participate in your local community or town.

When we vote, our values are put into action and our voices are heard. Your voice is a reminder that you matter because you do, and you deserve to be heard.”

— Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex

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  • Writing to your legislator on a specific concern.
  • Working on a Political Campaign- One of the biggest ways to understand hyper local issues is to join the campaign of a candidate, whose values match yours. You can build community from the people you talk to about the issues but also help get your candidate into a position of power to make the changes we need.
  • Join a Youth Advisory board for a local government- These boards serve as a bridge between legislators and the young people in their communities. It is useful for legislators to be aware of the issues faced by the next generation and how they can help resolve them.
  • Mutual Aid– in response to the COVID-19 crisis community members across the country set up refrigerators, purchased groceries for their elderly or disabled neighbors and most of all continue to look out for their community members even when our government forgot that we even existed didn’t prioritize any lasting aid for our communities to be able to survive. Donate to your local mutual aid and volunteer with them to make sure that everyone has what they need in order to socially distance while keeping themselves fed.
  • Watching government proceedings on C-SPAN. Unlike many children, I had early exposure to C-SPAN, and I was able to watch elected officials support or oppose the bill on live TV. Not that I knew what any of it was at the time. But it would save me in such a major way just by watching and learning how opposition parties work and how politics is like. C-SPAN comes in many different formats so you can listen to it on the radio while you commute to work, and watch it on television. C-SPAN covers Congress, the executive branch and the Supreme Court. These are the three branches of government in which they each serve as a check on the other.
  • Registering people to vote. For the past 10 years I’ve had the pleasure and honor of working with community groups in various neighborhoods of NYC & towns on Long Island, to register voters of color and to make sure that they knew about the relevant deadlines and what it took to successfully advocate for themselves while at the poll site. In my experience I’ve also administered elections and in the November 2020 election that I served as a poll watcher, to ensure that there would be no tampering with a legitimate election. Given the heightened concern around possible violence during the election many Americans bravely stepped up to answer the call to administer elections as a poll worker or the poll watch to make sure there were no irregularities that poll sites around the country.
  • Attending community board hearings and serving on one. If you live in New York City you may have noticed that community boards make a bulk of the decisions about what happens in the local community and how land use among many other important decisions about quality of life in the neighborhood are made. They are divided into community boards and you have to be appointed to them by the Borough President in each of the five boroughs in NYC. Check out this link to see where the closest community bought you is and consider joining. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cau/community-boards/community-boards.page
  • Testifying on important issues that you care about. Lawmakers often solicit public comments in order to understand where we stand on certain issues. I have always testified about higher education and access and affordability, transit and preventing more hikes in fares, and recommending policy changes to lawmakers about expanding democracy and making some more New Yorkers can vote.
  • Subscribe to the New York State Legislature and track legislation has it goes from committee to being voted on in the Assembly and Senate. You can stay updated through this link https://www.nysenate.gov/citizen-guide/bill-alerts . Only disclaimer I can provide about this is that your inbox will get very full if you don’t make it known which bill specifically you want to know the status about.
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I hope you will find out the requirements to vote where you live, and bring your friends and family into the civic engagement process because it is so important that we all show up and demand better from our country every single day. Accountability doesn’t stop just because we have a new administration. It just means that we have to put the pressure on them to live up to the campaign promises that the Biden campaign made when they were seeking our votes. No matter who you voted for, the time to heal as a nation is here, and White supremacy is not the direction that we’re going to in the future. The power is in your hands. You decide what to do with it.

Here are a list of organizations that are involved in registering voters and fighting for them.

  • Vote.org
  • Headcount, Inc
  • Fair Fight Action
  • Let NY Vote
  • Long Island Civic Engagement Table
  • Brooklyn Voters Alliance
  • Civic Action Council
  • Generation Vote
  • Generation Citizen
  • League of Women Voters
  • New York Civil Liberties Union – NYCLU
  • NY Civic Engagement Table
  • Rock the Vote
  • Vote Early NY
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