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    Archive for the
    ‘young voters’ Category



    The Unsupervised Classroom: Why Changes to the VRA Opened a Can of Worms

    Monday, February 3rd, 2014

    I’ve got good news and bad news…and for the sake of ending on a good note, I’ll start with the bad:

    In the summer of 2013, the US Supreme Court reviewed and phased out section 4b of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). (You can read section 4b of the VRA of 1965 here.)

    If all of this doesn’t seem like a big deal, think again. Say “Goodbye,” to Federal Preclearance and brace yourself for the wrath of States Rights.
    Imagine a classroom full of 5th graders. Now, imagine the teacher leaving the classroom unattended for a few minutes. We’ve all experienced it, the classroom becomes a free-for-all: some kids stand on chairs, some throw paper balls, and others take out snacks to sneak a munch or three. Let’s not apply this analogy too strictly, but in a way, when the Supreme Court eliminated section 4b of the VRA, some states took on the persona of an unsupervised 5th grader. In this situation we have 3 students: Arizona, Kansas and Texas.

    Student One: Arizona. Here, it is now required that citizens submit “sufficient” proof of citizenship in order to vote in the upcoming election. (A list of acceptable documentation for proof of citizenship is here.)

    What does this mean? Voters who register with the federal form, and those who have recently moved (since they will have to register in a new county) will be excluded from voting in the upcoming state/local level elections (Governor, Attorney General, etc…) unless they provide additional/affirmed documentation of citizenship.

    *cough* SHOW ME YOUR FREEDOM PAPERS! *cough* Excuse me.

    Student Two: Kansas, where a similar approach has been taken on, first time voters are being prompted to provide proof of citizenship, in addition to fulfilling the requirements on the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) federal form.

    What does this mean? New registrants cannot vote in federal elections unless they provide proof of citizenship. In the event that the new voter sends in the NVRA form only, he/she will be placed on a “suspense list” and will not be permitted to vote until providing proof of citizenship.

    Student Three (my personal favorite): Gool Ol’ Texas, which is prompting voters to provide a photo ID when voting in person.

    What does this mean? Texas voters are now required to present an approved form of photo identification in order to vote in all Texas Elections. (Here is a list of the acceptable forms of photo ID.) Seems fair enough, but what makes this law particularly tricky is that it disproportionately affects minority voters.

    Since elimination of section 4b interferes with enforcement of section 5, lets just say that the Supreme Court opened a figurative can of worms. And while there is nothing wrong with States’ rights, lest we forget, in the past they have been used to justify some more than questionable policies—such as Jim Crow and discriminatory marriage laws.

    Now here’s the good news:

    It’s up to us as to combat voter disenfranchisement. We can pressure our lawmakers by informing, educating, uniting, writing letters, emails, making phone calls and most of all voting. While we may not have the same views, it is our responsibility to make sure that our voices are heard.

    “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” – Justice Ginsburg

    I have a feeling this is the start of what will be an…interesting few years for voter rights in the upcoming elections. Be sure to stay tuned to Rock the Vote for updates and followups on the VRA and state voter legislation.

    And remember…don’t ditch your water repellant gear just yet, it’s still raining out there.

    Saundrea "Drea" Shropshire
    Bio: Saundrea "Drea" Shropshire is currently a senior at Howard University. Majoring in Political Science and minoring in Swahili Studies, she plans to attend law school in the fall of 2015. An avid biker, knitter, painter, movie enthusiast, music junkie, reader and writer, she takes on all tasks with the utmost tenacity and dedication. She also has many leather-bound books, and her apartment smells of rich mahogany.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    Meet Summer

    Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

    What’s the coolest job you can think of? Flight attendant? National Geographic photographer? How about Voter Advocate?

    Rock the Vote — in partnership with the Campus Election Engagement Project — has recruited a team of fellows across Virginia that are working on college campuses to register voters and educate their peers about the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial election. It’s the dream, I know.

    The media have us pegged as lazy, self-centered punks who can’t care about politics — but that’s only because they haven’t met any of our fellows. These fellows are the best of the best. They’re smart, they’re dedicated, they’re passionate, and we love them like family. Over the next few weeks we’re going to highlight some of our fellows and take a few minutes to brag about how cool they are.

    So why don’t we start by introducing you to Summer?

    • Give us a little background. Who are you? Where did you come from? Where do you go to college? What are you studying? 

    My name is Summer Gupta, most know me as Summer Siddiqui. I am from Woodbridge, Virginia. I go to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia , and I am a sophomore. My major is Political Science and my Minor is International Studies.

    • How did you first get involved with Rock the Vote?

    My best friend told me about it, she saw an email from Rock The Vote and the CEEP. She said she thought it was something I would be interested in so I took a look at the program and loved it so I applied to it!

    • Tell us a little bit about your work as a Rock the Vote fellow. What have you been doing to register voters? Do you have any cool stories to share?

    I have been setting up tabling events, doing class raps, canvassing, and a lot of visibility activities to get Rock The Vote’s name out there. My team and I have gotten several people to register and pledge. We are having a big Halloween party for those have volunteered, registered, or pledged with us here at Old Dominion University. It has been a pleasure working with Rock the Vote at our campus. We have several wonderful volunteers and professors who are engaging and stressing the importance of Voting.

    • Tell us something inspiring about yourself

    I have came along way in my life, with the support my two very amazing parents. they have been my role models, my motivation, and my strength for the past 19 years. I am who I am today because of my parents. My mother has a political and Law based background, I am following her footsteps. I wish to become a very successful political figure in the United States of America.

    • Name one person who you think is changing the world

    I cannot name one person, I believe that there are several people who are taking the stand and changing the world for the better in several different ways.

    • What is the most embarrassing concert you’ve ever been to?

    I took my little cousin to go watch the Sesame Street concert last year, and I knew every word to every song..that was probably the most embarrassing. 

    • Do you have any unique talents?

    I have major stage fright but when it comes to Indian dance, I forget anyone is watching and just do what I want. It is my ultimate stress reliever and it makes me really happy and feel positive about everything.

    • If you had the attention of the entire population of American youth for 15 seconds, what would you say?

    Do not take your life for granted, make something big out of yourselves. Education is the most beautiful gift you can give yourself. Do something with your life by giving others what they don’t have in their lives. Love, Respect, and Treasure your family, And most importantly, exercise every right you are given.

    austin@rockthevote.com
    Bio:
    @austin_estes
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    An Open Letter to Cory Booker from Rock the Vote

    Friday, October 18th, 2013

    Dear Senator-Elect Booker,

    Congratulations! I am writing on behalf of Rock the Vote to commend you and your team on Wednesday’s victory. You brought important issues to light throughout the campaign cycle from reducing gun violence and better educating our country’s young people, to economic empowerment. We are confident that New Jersey will continue to prosper under your leadership.

    As you know, Rock the Vote’s mission is to register, educate, and empower young people such that they can participate in our country’s democracy. This begins at the local level – which is why we’ve been there – in high school classrooms, at concerts and festivals, and on college campuses – talking to young New Jersey voters about this important special election.

    As you know (and further evidenced by the young people who worked on your campaign and those that cast their ballots for you on October 16th), young people are a powerful collective that not only care about their state, but that are engaged! And they will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of politics.

    We hope that as the Senator of New Jersey – especially as the Senate’s seventh youngest member, ninth-ever African American and only the fourth black senator ever popularly elected – you will continue to support our efforts to educate and engage this rising American electorate, and stand up for the interests of our 80,000+ friends in New Jersey.

    Again, we offer our congratulations and look forward to working with you as the newest Senator of New Jersey. We wish you the best of luck!

    Sincerely,

    Heather Smith

    President of Rock the Vote

    Heather Smith
    Bio: Heather is President of Rock the Vote.
    @rtvHS
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    Victory for Students in North Carolina!

    Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

    September 3, 2013

     

     

    Statement by Amanda Brown, Political Director, Rock the Vote

     

    We would first like to thank Montravias King for his brave and honorable commitment to his community and our country.  He has answered the call to citizenship by voting regularly on Election Day, by volunteering in his community, by running for City Council, and now by speaking out when our freedoms as young Americans are threatened.  He is a role model for us all.

    When this young man and student of Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, bravely decided to run for City Council in order to serve his community – the one he has lived in since 2009, the place he calls home – heshould havelives in a dorm on campus.  He challenged the County, and won.

    This ruling in favor of Montravias King by the State Board of Elections is a real victory for our democracy, and student voting rights everywhere.

    Today we celebrate this victory. 

    As we celebrate, however, we are also vigilant.  This case was a blatant attempt to keep a student from exercising his fundamental rights.  And it was particularly outrageous given the fact that the United States Supreme Court has upheld the rights of students to vote where they go to college, and the state of North Carolina has a statute reinforcing this right for students to vote at their campus address.

    We hope this decision today serves as a lesson that Rock the Vote, our allies, and students everywhere will not be silenced.  Hear our message loud and clear:  no politician can get away with this.  Not in Pasquotank County. Not in any other North Carolina county. Not anywhere!  Any attempt to penalize a young person for being a student by revoking their right to participate in our democracy is unacceptable and un-American and will not stand.

    We say congratulations and thank you to Montravias and to all of the students who came out today. 

    About Rock the Vote

    Rock the Vote’s mission is to engage and build political power for young people in our country.  Founded twenty-two years ago at the intersection of popular culture and politics, Rock the Vote has registered more than five million young people to vote and has become a trusted source of information for young people about registering to vote and casting a ballot.  We use music, popular culture, new technologies and grassroots organizing to motivate and mobilize young people in our country to participate in every election, with the goal of seizing the power of the youth vote to create political and social change.
    .

    Rock the Vote
    Bio: Rock the Vote was founded in 1990 to organize artists and fight against censorship of musicians. Since then we've evolved to focus on empowering young people to get involved in the political process. We use pop culture, peer-to-peer organizing, and the latest technology to raise visibility of politics and demystify the process of registering to vote.
    @rockthevote
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com