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Jamison Foser @jamisonfoser
, 42 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
Gather ‘round one and all, for I, an old person, have some things to say about voting and Kids These Days.
The kids these days, they don’t vote. That’s bad!

People say it’s because the kids these days are apathetic. But that’s bullshit; they care about a lot of things. I bet you can think of examples.
They just don’t think voting is an effective means of addressing the things they care about.

Now, of course, that isn’t true. There is a point to voting, and young people should do it, and here’s where I’m gonna get ranty.
It’s *your* fault that young people don’t vote. And mine. And your dear “greatest generation” grandpa who fought the Nazis. All of us.

We’re supposed to teach them. Mentor them. Inspire them. Show them.
We haven’t done that. We haven’t done any of that. Not successfully anyway.
And we sure as fuck didn’t build a stable, sane, compassionate country with a stable, sane, fair, open and welcoming electoral system.

Sure, some of us have tried. But we haven’t succeeded.
Look, i was ready to vote at 9 years old, without any real adult encouragement. Fine. But I was a weird fuckin’ kid, you know?
Most people do not emerge into adult society at 18 years old all fully ready and eager to vote.
If 60 percent of young adults didn’t know how to read, we wouldn’t say “kids these days, they’re idiots.” We’d say schools and parents failed them.

Well it’s our job to get them ready to vote, too. We have work to do. Let’s get to it.
With apologies to @BarackObama: Don’t boo. (Encourage young people to) vote.
@BarackObama Here’s a great tool from my colleagues @NextGenAmerica: Voter guides, polling place lookups, etc for young people in AZ, CA, FL, IA, MI, NC, NH, NV, PA, VA, WI:
Gotta take a break. Back with more ranting later.
So, the young adults in that NY Mag piece everyone has been making fun of for not voting? OK, let’s talk about them, ‘cause they’re representative of a lot of people.
At @NextGenAmerica, we’re running the biggest youth organizing program in the history of American politics. @BenWessel can tell you about the most important parts of that -- the talking-to-people part. @hmhargreaves — wisely — doesn’t let me talk to real people.
But I did get to spend a whole bunch of time (and money…) on a research project to learn a bit more about why young people don’t vote and how we can encourage them to.
And as part of that research, we found a lot of barriers to participation that are reflected in that NY Mag peice. And we tested a lot of different ways of addressing them.
A lot of young people are reluctant to vote because they don’t feel qualified or knowledgable. We experimented with arguments that you don’t need to know every detail; if you know the difference between right and wrong, you know enough to vote.
And we tried arguments that lots of uninformed people vote, and if you don’t vote you’re empowering them.
And we found a good chunk of non-voters think that voting just perpetuates a broken system. That one is particularly insidious -- it’s a mentality you know the vote-suppressors on the Right just *love.*
Which, by the way, is an important thing to keep in mind: Bad people spend a bunch of time and money trying to stop people from voting. And not just on voter ID laws and stuff: They encourage the attitudes you saw in that NY Mag piece.
Inspired by anti-teen-smoking campaigns of the past, we tried to find a way to turn voting into an act of rebellion for these young people. (Background on the smoking bit:… )
And, unsurprisingly, we found a lot of young people aren’t sold on voting because they just don’t think it works, for a variety of reasons. System’s rigged, politicians don’t listen to them, etc etc.
I’ve seen a lot of people mock all these attitudes and more for the last few days, but the thing is: They’re right.

The system *is* undemocratic. It *is* too hard to vote. Politicians *aren’t* as responsive as they should be. We should vote anyway, but all those things are true
And when you mock people for saying it’s too hard to vote instead of helping them figure it out, and to understand why it’s worth it, *you’re helping the people who want it to be  hard to vote.*
“Oh it isn’t that hard, you’re just lazy” -- that’s what Voter ID proponents say. It’s what people who move polling places out of minority neighborhoods say. It’s bad. Don’t help them!
Gotta go again. Back later with the good news, including a little bit of magic that happened in some focus groups.
OK, I’m back. So we did some focus groups, and as part of them we told young people there are more of them than any other age group…and we showed them this graph. It wasn’t intended to be the core of the discussion guide, but that’s how it turned out.
In group after group, young people saw this thing and it lit a spark. In literally every group, someone saw it and said “There’s power in numbers.” And then the rest of the night, people would keep repeating that phrase.
It got to be a running joke in the observation room between @cornellbelcher, @t_woodbury and I. Probably should’ve been a drinking game, except we were too exhausted.
More important than the phrase, though, was the discussion that would follow. People were making the connection on their own: There are a ton of young people, so they have power, but politicians don’t listen to them because they don’t vote.
So when we got to the quantitative message testing part we tested a dozen or so messages. And one message rose to the top, performing consistently well across demographic groups and attitudinal segments we’d developed earlier.

Here it is:
There’s a lot going on here. For people who are already kinda inclined to vote, this gives them a bit of an extra nudge. But it also provides a counter-narrative for people who think voting is pointless.
It tells people who think their vote doesn’t matter because the system is broken that, in fact, the system rewards people who vote. It tells people they have power -- but only if they use it. It takes the things they know to be true, provides an explanation, and a solution.
And, again, it tested *really* well in the poll @abaumania and his team at @GSG did for us. Better (and more broadly) than any of us imagined. So we used it as the basis for some digital ads.
Here’s one, featuring some guy named @BarackObama delivering something pretty damn close to the message that tested so well for us.
Here’s another:
This is what can happen when you actually talk to young people about voting instead of insulting them:
So, the thing is, *this would be a record* for millennials, and the highest number total for young people in a very long time.

Headlines like this are
1) Bullshit and
2) De-motivational bullshit.
Instead what turnout might look like if news media told young people about the power they have, instead of constantly telling them this bullshit story that people like them are apathetic slackers.
If you encounter a person under 40 in the next 24 hours and you don’t encourage her or him to vote, *you* are the problem. Keep that in mind!
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