NBC News

By Bay City News
We got power in our veins.

Those were the words of young Oakland poet Anatasia King, who kicked off an hour-long panel discussion on voter turnout among young people held tonight in Oakland.

King’s words mirrored the message of the five panelists – though everyone acknowledged it’s an uphill battle.

Only 8 percent of California young people ages 18 to 24 voted in the 2014 midterms, and almost half of young adults in that age group were not even registered to vote that year, according to the California Secretary of State.

But most of the five panelists at tonight’s event were intent on changing those numbers.

Many of them are trying to register younger voters and, just as importantly, show them that their vote can have an impact.

“Some of them are politically inclined but they may not see the importance of voting, or see the correlation between voting and the issues they’re worried about,” said panelist Des McSwain of the Black Organizing Project. “We have to start small.”

YR Media, formerly known as Youth Radio, hosted the panel in conjunction with holding a voter registration drive targeted toward young people.

One reason why young voters don’t always feel connected to the political process is because California’s electorate is not as diverse as the state’s population, according to Eliana Jimenez Honeycutt, an organizer with the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

CALmatters reporter Ben Christopher said that if more young people voted it would have a direct impact.

“Even if we saw a modest increase you could really see some changes in who the electorate is and what kind of policies you get,” he said.

The political issues that matter most to young people are immigration and housing, according to a Power California poll. Those are topics that touch on “lived experience,” Calvin Williams from the Movement Strategy Center said.

Laneisha Butler, a community organizer with Oakland Rising, said many young people in Oakland are focused on leaving the area instead of on trying to change things.

So Butler not only tries to get them registered to vote, but also connects them with volunteer and career opportunities.

“You need to really engage folks year round, not just during elections,” she said.

The panel ended on a lighter note: a discussion over Proposition 7, which if passed would be a step toward eliminating daylight saving time.

“You can spring forward, you can fall back, I’ll be late either way,” he said to laughter.

Voter registration runs until Monday and vote by mail ballot requests must be made by Oct. 30, according to the Secretary of State. Election day is Nov. 6.




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Oakland Rising and our collaborative partners are united in our vision for a city that embodies health, happiness, safety, and equal opportunities for all. Our goal is to create a model of progress and sustainability that showcases the possibilities for American cities in the 21st century. We are committed to dismantling the barriers of racial, economic, political, environmental, and educational inequities that have divided us, and instead, embracing the collective strength found in our city’s diversity. We firmly believe that Oakland can achieve its full potential when every resident, student, and bus rider has the ability to shape our city’s future. This vision is attainable and we are determined to realize it through our collective actions, whether it’s through voting, meetings, or call to actions.

Every year, we release a Vision, Issues, and Policy Platform (VIPP) which outlines the annual policies that we and our eight partner organizations prioritize in order to advance racial, economic, and environmental justice in the Town. Our collaborative’s agenda encompasses a range of critical initiatives, from expanding affordable housing to creating a more equitable democracy through campaign finance reforms. These priorities are designed to provide vital protections and innovative solutions for the most vulnerable members of our community. As we continue our efforts to promote these policies, we hold conversations with thousands of voters, lead and co-host impactful town hall meetings, educate and mobilize residents and voters, and undertake various other initiatives.

To gain a deeper understanding of our commitment to resist, protect, and advance in this political moment, we invite you to explore our 2023 Vision, Issues, and Policy Platform. Together, we are making strides towards a more equitable and just Oakland, and we remain steadfast in our pursuit of change, one vote, one meeting, one march at a time.

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