Jahan Dotson #5 of the Penn State Nittany Lions catches a pass for a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers during the first half at Beaver Stadium on 9/18/21 in State College, Pa. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Younger voters in critical battleground states boosted their turnout in 2020, helping President Joe Biden capture the White House.
Two years later, with control of Congress on the line, and the midterm elections weeks away, national Democrats aren’t leaving anything to chance as they look to keep a key voting bloc onside.
On Saturday, the Democratic National Committee says it plans to fly banners around Beaver Stadium as Penn State takes on Central Michigan, and Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, where Pitt will faces Rhode Island.
The banners, pictured below, direct people to visit IWillVote.com, which provides state-specific information about voting and checking their registration status.
“The stakes of this November’s election are high, which is why the DNC is meeting young voters where they are to encourage them to register to vote and make their voices heard,” DNC spokesperson Brooke Goren said in an email. “Whether you’re a Nittany Lion or a Panther, every eligible Pennsylvanian should visit IWILLVOTE.com to see how they can register.”
The banners are part of a six-figure campaign across a dozen states to encourage young voters to register to vote this campaign season. And it comes at a time when outside groups also are ramping up their attention.
Earlier this week, NextGenAmerica, the advocacy group founded by billionaire Tom Steyer, contacted hundreds of thousands of young voters in eight states to get them to both register to vote, and pledge to turn out in November.
The campaign, a mix of text, digital, and in-person outreach, was timed to coincide with National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, the group said in a statement.
Tuesday’s outreach was a “historic day for NextGen and we had a blast celebrating National Voter Registration Day in our eight states,” NextGen America President Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez said in an email.
“Young people know that true progress is not about any one party or candidate, but rather building a powerful movement of young voters to push our country forward using our collective voices,” Tzintzún Ramirez continued, adding that the group’s work Tuesday “and every day, is aiming to make this collective voice as representative as possible.”
Younger voters across central Pennsylvania told PennLive earlier this week that they’re energized and ready to vote. They’re motivated by such issues as education, clean water, and abortion access.
Despite that enthusiasm, younger voters are still dwarfed by their older counterparts, who turn out in far larger numbers, the news organization reported.
But with the results of races in Pennsylvania turning on as little as a percentage point, party leaders and advocates are making a concerted play for this critical voting bloc.
“I think right now the biggest hurdle is we are not engaging students in a meaningful way,” Kadida Kenner, of the New Pennsylvania Project, told PennLive.
The key, however, is reaching out to those voters — hence the DNC’s banner blitz this weekend.
“They are waiting on someone to have a conversation with them and not just speak at them about what they are concerned about,” Kenner told PennLive. “We talk about what’s at stake. I tell them you all care about having clean air and water.
“You all care about having access to abortion, raising the minimum wage and paying off student debt,” Kenner concluded. “If you care about all these things, the way you are going to have legislation move is to come out and cast a ballot and get your voices heard.”
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