Power to the (Young) People: Mobilizing the Youth Vote in the Municipal Election

Women's March 2018
Voting organizations hope to capture the millennials' energy of the midterm election in the upcoming mayoral election.

By Kelly Rissman
Medill Reports

In February, Chicago Votes will host ‘Babes Only,’ a concert featuring solely female performers and mayoral candidates, ‘Parade to the Polls,’ where young Chicagoans can ask candidates questions before marching to vote, and happy hours for millennials to discuss city issues. These are just a few of the ways that Chicago voting organizations are encouraging young people to get out and vote in the municipal elections.

Voters aged 18 to 34 comprised roughly 26 percent of the turnout in the midterms, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. This age group’s attendance increased more than any other since the 2014 midterms.

Chicago nonpartisan nonprofits—Chicago Votes and Good Kids Mad City—are harnessing this youthful energy in the upcoming election, through events geared specifically toward young Chicagoans.

Millennials “are the most diverse, the most progressive, but our politics are not reflecting that,” said Stevie Valles, Chicago Votes executive director, 29. “So voting and making your voice heard is a step in ensuring that politics does reflect the largest generation in America.” 

Youth-led group Good Kids Mad City also aims to give young people a voice. Youth leader Taylor Norwood, 19, said the nonprofit helps kids answer the question ‘why vote?’: “When they hear ‘mayor,’ they don’t think it has anything to do with them. We’ve got to help them connect the dots.” The group educates peers about policies and organizes protests and events.

On Feb. 6, the group is planning a ‘Get Out and Vote’ concert, featuring local artists. It’s free for Chicago residents who are registered to vote, and volunteers will be available to register those who haven’t.

The municipal election is Tuesday, Feb. 26.

Photo at top: Voting organizations hope to capture the millennial energy of the midterm election in the upcoming mayoral election. (Kelly Rissman/MEDILL)