DES MOINES, Iowa — Tuesday, NextGen Iowa is hosting an event to celebrate Vote By Mail Day, to encourage young voters to learn more about the process.
“There are going to be some people where when election day rolls around, that can’t vote absentee. They’re going to have to vote in person,” Press Secretary for NextGen Iowa, Murphy Burke said. “So it’s important that everybody who is able to right now requests their absentee ballot and votes by mail so that then there aren’t long wait times or higher risk at those voting locations.”
This virtual rally is also hosted by a political media company, Crooked Media, and will feature speakers from One Iowa, the League of United Latin Americans, and State Auditor Rob Sand.
Another speaker at this event will be University of Iowa student, Jocelyn Roof.
Roof is the Executive Director of the organization, Hawk The Vote. This group’s goal is to make sure students turnout for local, state, and federal elections.
Roof said she knows younger voters have a bad reputation for turning out in elections. However, she said some might not know how.
“It’s really confusing to figure out what do I need to register, how can I register, what do I need to bring to vote in person, how do I request an absentee ballot,” Roof said. “And really I can’t think of a time where somebody taught me those things, it’s like if you don’t know information you have to seek it out yourself.”
Not only will participants hear speeches about voting, but over 200 organizers and volunteers will also be texting 10,000 and calling 1,800 young Iowans to walk them through the ballot request process.
Polk County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections, Jamie Fitzgerald, said he’s expecting 70-80% of people to submit absentee ballots for November elections.
A poll done by the nonpartisan Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement alludes to young people being more energized to vote this year. Seventy-nine percent of participants in the poll said the pandemic has helped them realize that politics affect their lives.
However, a third of participants in that same poll were unclear on ways to register to vote online and only 24% had voted by mail before.
NextGen Iowa said this will be the first event of a campaign leading up to November elections, to let young voters know their options.
“We want to make sure that even more young people have the resources so that they can use this process in the general election. So that they can have their voices be heard in a safe way,” Burke said.
Roof said Hawk the Vote prides itself on being non-partisan and she wishes voting by mail did not become so political.
“Certain things are made out to be partisan issues that really aren’t and voting definitely shouldn’t be and access to voting shouldn’t be restricted just because of the pandemic,” Roof said. “You should never have to choose between your personal well being and your access to the ballot box.”
This virtual event is happening Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. To learn more about registering to vote visit here.