ServiceVote is YSA’s U.S. election-year resource to engage young people, ages 5-25, in the…
Why should I vote?
Your voice matters! Voting gives you the opportunity to use your voice to make changes in systems that impact you. Young people who have experienced foster care often have alot of thoughts about the policies that impact them, but the truth is, lots of legislators (the people in office) know very little about foster care. In order to elevate these issues, we must use our collective voice to:
1) Inform legislators about the issues and why they are not working.
2) Vote for legislators and policies that will make changes in the systems that impact youth who are in and have experience in care.
What's up with the midterm elections thing?
Midterm elections don't include voting for presidential canditates, but they have a big impact on policies nationally, statewide and locally! Midterm elections also include ballot initiatives that impact our day to day lives. Read this article to learn more!
How do I even know what to vote for? There are signs up everywhere and I have no idea what they mean or if they apply to me.
Yep, there's a little bit of homework involved in figuring out who and what to vote for, but it can be fun! You'll need to look up your ballot by using your address to see what and who you will be voting for. Some of the things on your ballot will be issues you are familiar with, such as a voting for President or Governor. Other things may seem like issues that are out of left field, like voting for the State University Board of Regents. Pay special attention to any proposals listed, because they are likely to include issues that effect day to day life and state/local laws. Most of the proposal descriptions will describe what a "YES" and "NO" vote mean, so read them carefully. We know this takes a little bit of time and preparation, but rest assured that you will be armed with the facts as you head to the polls!
Voting seems complicated and confusing.
Yep. It can be! There are lots of barriers to vote for youth who have experienced foster care too! Strict voter ID rules and complex voter registration regulations create barriers to voting for unhoused youth and those who may not have access to their records and paperwork. And limiting polling places and access to vote-by-mail disproportionately impacts voters in low-income and communities of color, which are overrepresented in foster care.
This can be frustrating and overwhelming. We get it! But we are still going to challenge you to use your VOICE to VOTE! Here is why: as youth turnout increases, our election power GROWS. This gives us the chance to educate legislators and policymakers about what is not working for us and tell them about changes we want to see!
Below, we've collected some resources that can help you navigate the process.
Register to vote (Voter registration time takes less than 2 minutes to complete!)
Check your registration (Are you registered to vote? Fill out this form in less than 1 minute to find out!)
Request an absentee ballot (Vote from home by mail--this option is only available until a certain date before an election)
Find your polling place (Not sure where to go to vote? Fill out this form to find out!)
What will it be like when I get there? (What to expect when you arrive to vote in person)
How do I even know what to vote for? (Enter your mailing address here to see who/what issues will be on your personal ballot)
What if I am couch surfing or experiencing homelessness? (You can still vote even if you don't have a permanent address)
Help! I don't have transportation! How can I get to my polling location? (Google "free rides to voting polls. Some places such as Lansing and Detroit offer free public transit rides to polls. You can also ask your campus coach or a supportive adult to help!)
Reach out to your elected officials (Interested in letting your elected officials know where you stand on an issue? Visit this site to connect with them. REMEMBER: They work for you!)
RESOURCE FOR PROFESSIONALS AND SUPPORTIVE ADULTS
Voting Access and Preparation for Youth in Foster Care Strategies for Supporting Civic Engagement: This virtual symposium brings together young adults with experience in foster care, advocates, and child welfare practitioners to offer perspectives, interventions, and strategies for improving access to voting for youth in foster care.
Do you have a great resource that could be added to make this toolkit better? Send it our way! FSM@FosteringSuccessMichigan.com
Fostering Success Michigan is a program of Educate Tomorrow that aims to increase access and success in higher education and post-college careers for youth with experience in foster care. Learn how you can contribute to building a holistic network that insulates (i.e., strengthens protective factors and reduces risks) the education to career "pipeline."Make a Donation