Testimony of Montgomery County Young Democrats to House Economic Matters Committee in Support of HB 549-Fair Wage Act of 2023

February 24th, 2023

Chair Wilson, Vice Chair Crosby, members of the House Economic Matters Committee:

The Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) strongly support HB 549, the Fair Wage Act of 2023, and urge your support for the bill. The Fair Wage Act of 2023 would accelerate the implementation of the state’s $15 per hour minimum wage and adjust that minimum wage for inflation. We also urge that HB 549 be amended to include tipped workers, so there is a $15 per hour minimum wage for all Maryland workers and no one is left out.

In 2019, the Maryland Legislature approved a $15 per hour minimum wage but decided to gradually phase in this increase over several years. At the time, Maryland’s minimum wage was $10.10 per hour and the Legislature voted to increase the wage to $15 an hour in 2025 for businesses with fifteen or more employees, and 2026 for smaller businesses. Anti-poverty advocates and organizers criticized this delayed implementation at the time. Based on a standard work week of 40 hours, a worker earning $15 per hour would make about $31,200 a year, which is not that much.

Governor Wes Moore has stressed the importance of fighting poverty and boosting the incomes of low-wage workers; during his campaign he promised to speed up the implementation of the $15 per hour minimum wage. The Fair Wage Act would fulfill that promise. It would fully implement that $15 per hour minimum wage for all covered employees by October 1st, 2023 instead of sometime in 2026.

HB 549 would also index the $15 per hour wage to the Consumer Price Index starting on July 1, 2025. It defines the Consumer Price Index as the index for all urban consumers for the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV urban area index published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This index shall be capped at 5% per year. In practical terms, this means that Maryland’s $15 per hour minimum wage will increase with inflation, greatly benefiting workers. The Maryland Legislature will not have to come back and vote again and again to hike the wage every few years; instead, it will go up automatically.

The Fair Wage Act of 2023 is an excellent bill that will help Maryland workers and boost wages. However it could be strengthened and improved by including tipped workers. Currently the bill does not include tipped workers, who are only required to be paid $3.63 per hour plus tips–an astonishingly low figure! By ending the egregious subminimum wage for tipped workers, many Marylanders would see higher wages–and this reform will help reduce decades of growing pay inequality. It would also help people achieve economic opportunity, because no one who works full time should have to live in poverty.

Affected workers who work year round would get a substantial raise because of this bill. They would earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars more per year, enough to make a tremendous difference in the life of a cashier, home health aide, or retail worker who struggles to get by. A $15 per hour minimum wage covering all workers would start to reverse decades of growing pay inequality between the most underpaid workers and workers receiving close to the median wage, and it would especially benefit Black workers and women workers. Higher wages would benefit consumers and communities across the country. Since underpaid workers spend much of their extra earnings, this wage boost would help stimulate the economy and spur greater business activity and job growth.

The Montgomery County Young Democrats urge the House Economic Matters Committee to strengthen HB 549, the Fair Wage Act, by amending the bill to include tipped workers and then supporting the bill. All Maryland workers deserve to be equally treated and to earn a living wage.

Please contact us at mocoyoungdems@gmail.com with any questions.

Testimony of Montgomery County Young Democrats to Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in Support of SB 1-Bill to Prevent Gun Violence

February 7th, 2023

Chair Smith, Vice Chair Waldstreicher, members of the Judicial Proceedings Committee:

The Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) urge your support for SB 1, also known as the Gun Safety Act of 2023. This bill, which bans guns from being carried into or near places of public accommodation, will promote gun safety, help stop gun violence, and reduce threats of intimidation directed against Maryland residents.

SB 1 prohibits people from knowingly wearing, carrying, or transporting guns onto someone else’s property unless that person has expressly given permission to them or to the public. It also prohibits people from wearing, carrying, or transporting guns within 100 feet of a public accommodation. A public accommodation is defined as 1) an inn, hotel, or motel, 2) a restaurant, cafeteria, or other eating or drinking establishment, 3) a theater, sports arena (i.e. gym), concert hall, or other entertainment, transportation, or recreation venue. 

Guns are dangerous weapons that kill tens of thousands of Americans every year. Over one million Americans have been shot in the past decade. In 2021, gun deaths reached their highest level in at least 40 years, with 48,830 deaths that year alone. The United States accounts for just 4% of the world’s population but for 35% of global gun suicides. Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed in a gun homicide than people in other high-income countries. And this year there have already been over 41 mass shootings.

These weapons have no place in our restaurants, theaters, hotels, and other public areas. When people carry guns in these locations it often results in individuals getting hurt or killed, whether in unintentional shootings, escalating fights, or massacres. People should feel safe in public places and carrying guns creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. When people can carry guns into public accommodations, it makes it easier for mass shooters to carry out their attacks.

Additionally certain extremist groups have started wearing and carrying guns because they want to intimidate people. In Montgomery County, far-right radical groups such as the Proud Boys have gathered outside Drag Queen Story Hours and other events carrying guns in attempts to frighten readers and attendees–and these people often resort to violence if they don’t get their way. Similar examples have occurred in other parts of the country where extremist organizations with guns stand outside or inside accommodations, trying to terrorize people or shut down events. In certain cases these groups have even stood outside polling places in blatant efforts to menace people and deter them from voting. SB 1, by banning the wearing and carrying of guns near these places, will help combat these intimidation efforts.

Until recently Maryland required people to have a “good and substantial” reason to be allowed to carry concealed guns. However the Supreme Court, in one of its recent harmful decisions, declared this requirement unconstitutional. Their decision left a big gap in Maryland’s laws, allowing almost anyone to get a gun and bring it anywhere. SB 1 will fix that gap and help protect Marylanders.

When guns are everywhere, people are less safe and there is a greater risk that any dispute will turn violent–and potentially lethal. Keeping guns out of sensitive places like bars, like stadiums, like courthouses, like polling places, will help keep people safe and reduce a whole number of potential threats, not just mass shootings.

The Montgomery County Young Democrats urge the Judicial Proceedings Committee to support and favorably report SB 1. Please contact us at mocoyoungdems@gmail.com with any questions.


The Montgomery County Young Democrats

MoCo Young Dems Urge County Council to Support Rent Stabilization Bill

March 5th, 2023

Dear President Glass, Vice President Friedson, and County Councilmembers:

The Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) urge the County Council to support Bill 16-23, Landlord-Tenant Relations – Rent Stabilization (The HOME Act), establishing an annual maximum rent increase for rental housing in the County and permitting a landlord to submit a petition for a fair rent increase. Renters are experiencing a lack of stability and predictability for the cost of their homes, leading to many residents geting pushed out and facing eviction. This bill is needed to ensure that people have access to affordable housing in Montgomery County with market stability.

As previously mentioned in our letter of support regarding Bill 22-22, during the COVID-19 pandemic the County Council enacted limits on rent increases in order to protect residents harmed by high unemployment and to ensure they could stay in their homes during a global pandemic. However, the once temporary protections must now become permanent, in order to ensure members of our community are not improperly subjected to unfair rental increases. MCYD continues to understand that landlords have a right to earn a living, but in a decent and fair society, residents should have a right to equitable and predictable housing market changes as well.

Montgomery County continues to face a housing crisis where many residents are struggling to find affordable housing. Renters make up approximately 37% of Montgomery County residents and already tend to pay higher percentages of their income on housing than homeowners. The Washington Post reported that since 2019 average rent prices in Montgomery County have increased by 8.3%. But many County residents are reporting far more significant rent increases–10%, 20%, and even higher hikes–which have resulted in people being priced out of their homes. Silver Spring residents wrote to the Council of monthly rent increases of $200-$400. While renters do have the power to file complaints about rent increases, many people are unaware that they have this right or lack the knowledge to navigate that process. Bill 16-23 aims to limit rent-stabilized units to annual rent increases matching the predetermined Voluntary Rent Guidelines (VRG), which is a rate of 3% or lower.

Black and Latino families disproportionately rent their homes instead of owning them. Because of a shortage of housing, people encounter substantial difficulties in finding and keeping their rental property. Moving is also costly and risky for residents, who have to pay security deposits, move their belongings, and get situated. And when residents are evicted due to their inability to meet rent increases, the results are traumatic, often resulting in people becoming homeless and living on the streets. Eviction harms people’s mental and physical health, hurts their financial wellbeing, hinders their efforts to rise out of poverty, and harms their future attempts to get housing.

Bill 16-23 outlines necessary solutions to the disproportionate and inequitable rent increases occurring all through the County. For over 10 years, the Voluntary Rent Guidelines were around 2.25%, and averaged 3% over the last 20 years. Bill 16-23 is proposing a 3% cap which would be well within County standards, allowing for much needed predictability to tenants. The bill also provides an opportunity for landlords to petition and apply for rent increases above the proposed annual allowance by filing a Fair Return Petition. By allowing landlords to petition for rent increases, they can state their claim for why the rent increase helps cover their bottom line: current net operating income. The measures in Bill 16-23 will provide much needed protections for renters in the light of unaffordable housing and account for the landlords who are accountable for covering their operating income so as to make a profit.

Housing is a human right. Bill 16-23 will ensure that renters are protected against unpredictable and unstable rent increases, ensure that more people have access to affordable housing, reduce evictions, and promote equity and justice in our society.

MCYD urges that this bill be brought up for a vote and for a favorable report on the bill. Codifying rent stability as permanent law will significantly help renters disproportionately burdened by profiteers. Please contact us at mocoyoungdems@gmail.com if you have any questions.


The Montgomery County Young Democrats

Montgomery County Young Democrats Newsletter: A Look Back at 2022

2022 was a year of new challenges and even newer solutions. As the pandemic receded, the Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) reassessed and recalculated our efforts to support our community, encourage people to get involved in politics, and elect Democrats up and down the ballot. We also stepped up our advocacy and campaigning to meet the needs of our neighbors. 

If you are interested, we urge you to become an MCYD member – annual dues are only $10 and you can join here

Financial Support for Various Groups: 

Thanks to your generous support, the Montgomery County Young Democrats began 2022 with $13,199.89 in our bank account. With that we funded a diverse set of projects and organizations, including: 

  • A $125 sponsorship for the 2022 Women’s Legislative Briefing
  • A $500 donation to a Wider Circle, a Silver Spring nonprofit that helps people living in poverty 
  • A $500 donation to the Maryland Democratic Party, encouraging them to get young people involved in politics 
  • A $500 donation to Compostology – an organization founded by two Montgomery County high school students that reduces food waste and greenhouse gas emissions
  • A $600 donation to Brook Codes – an organization dedicated to providing accessibility to women and people of color who are otherwise overlooked in the tech industry 
  • A $300 donation for the Silver Spring Starbucks workers strike fund

MCYD has a grant program where we give out grants of $250, $500, or other amounts to support various projects aimed at helping communities, getting young people more engaged and active in political life, and assisting the less fortunate. We encourage applications, and for those interested in applying for an MCYD grant, the grant application form is here). 

First Quarter of 2022

In January 2022, we began the year by saying goodbye to our long-standing MCYD member and Treasurer Stephen Schiavone, who will be missed. In his place, we elected Saif Shamim (of Gaithersburg) as our new Treasurer, who has brought valuable experience working for the Maryland General Assembly and on a Congressional campaign in Maryland. 

In February 2022 we organized our annual Legislative Advocacy Day, urging Maryland Delegates and Senators to pass various bills we supported. Although they were virtual, we were able to have insightful meetings with legislators, and shared the legislative priorities that MCYD set out to advocate for this year including:

  • HB 8 – Paid family and medical Leave
  • HB 751 – Allowing graduate students at the University of Maryland to unionize 
  • SB 73 – Special elections to fill legislative vacancies 
  • SB 387 – Banning untraceable ghost guns-and 
  • HB 659 – Jaelynn’s Law – Child access prevention 
  • Cannabis legalization
  • Environmental protection and reducing climate change 
  • And many other priorities such as standards for teaching African-American history in schools and measures to reduce student loan debt 

In March, we began to meet candidates in the race for Maryland’s next Governor, including our new Lt. Governor-elect Aruna Miller. During our March meeting, we talked about the housing crisis with former MCYD President and renters’ rights advocate Will Roberts and Sarah Reddinger, Vice President of Community Development for Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland. 

Second Quarter of 2022

As the Maryland legislative session wrapped up, we received a brief summary of the legislative session. At our April meeting, we spoke with Maryland gubernatorial candidate John King about his run for office and his policy proposals. 

During the 2022 Democratic primary, we were happy to see members of our own team step up to take on positions in campaigns or run their own elections! MCYD members who ran for office included: 

  • MCYD Vice President Teresa Woorman who ran for the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC), and served as Campaign Manager for Marc Elrich
  • MCYD Communications Director Margie Delao who ran for MCDCC
  • MCYD Membership Director Keyna Anyiam who ran for MCDCC, and served as Senior Advisor with the Ashwani Jain for MD Governor campaign
  • MCYD Member Joe Vogel who won his race for Delegate in District 17! 

In May the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, depriving millions of access to safe and legal abortions. Understanding the harm this is causing to families and pregnant women and men, MCYD focused our May meeting on reproductive rights and the state of healthcare and patient advocacy (especially for minority groups and undocumented immigrants). Later in May, we held our 1st Annual Alumni Ice Cream Social at a local park in the streets of Silver Spring. We were excited to hear from our past members who have gone on to become elected officials, candidates, policy analysts, and civil rights champions since leaving MCYD. 

In an effort to keep voters informed, MCYD hosted a County Council at Large Candidate Forum in early June. Attendees answered questions about housing, the policing of recreational cannabis, affordability of higher education, public safety, abortion rights, and many other issues. 

Third Quarter of 2022

Once the 2022 Democratic primaries concluded in July, we celebrated by having a MCYD Happy Hour and by working to ensure that Democrats united behind the victorious candidates throughout the county and state. We were also immensely pleased by President Joe Biden’s announcement of $10,000 in student debt cancellation, and circulated information to our communities so people could take advantage of this opportunity. 

In September MCYD held our 17th Annual Paint the County Blue fundraiser, generously hosted by Councilmember Gabe Albornoz. The event was a success as we raised over $6,000! We are so thankful for the continued support of our community and donors. We will use the money to keep funding our advocacy efforts and initiatives to engage and retain young Democratic voters, as well as supporting non-partisan groups who work to help Montgomery County be a better place for its residents. 

Final Months of 2022

In October we focused on Get out the Vote efforts! MCYD members went all over Maryland to stomp the pavements and knock on doors in support of the Maryland Democratic party. Members traveled to Frederick, Ellicott City, Glen Burnie, and Lexington Park. Along with phonebanking, our club was busy ensuring that MD voted #AllBlueIn22!

On Election Day, we were not disappointed. We witnessed Maryland make history and  elected our first Black Governor in Wes Moore and our first Asian Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller. MCYD looks forward to working with the Moore-Miller administration over the next four years. Our November meeting focused on mental health assistance, the need for additional funding and resources, and what young people should know about this topic. 

Finally, in December we held our end of the year Holiday Party, graciously hosted by Eden Durbin in Kensington. MCYD members relaxed, caught up with one another, and celebrated an excellent year of education, organizing, and political advocacy. 

We look forward to building on our successes and accomplishing even more this year!

Testimony of Montgomery County Young Democrats to Montgomery County Delegation Priorities Hearing-November 15th, 2022

Good evening members of the Delegation: 

Thank you for receiving our testimony. My name is Michael DeLong and I am the President of the Montgomery County Young Democrats, an organization of young Democrats ages 14-34 who work to make Montgomery County and Maryland better places to live, and get young people more involved in politics. Since Maryland currently has a $2 billion budget surplus and incoming Governor Wes Moore has proposed an impressive agenda, we urge the Legislature to seize this moment and enact reforms that will truly leave no one behind.

First, we strongly support the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and urge you to fully fund early childhood and public school education over the next decade, which will result in incredible benefits for children, families, and society as a whole. We also urge the Delegation to work on making childcare more affordable by expanding the early childhood workforce and scholarship funds, and to prepare students for good-paying jobs by expanding access to programs, apprenticeships, and job training. Students with excessive student loan debt should also receive help–the student loan debt relief tax credit program should be expanded, and they should get free access to professional debt counseling. 

Maryland voters also approved a constitutional amendment legalizing cannabis starting next summer, and so legislators should write rules to set up the recreational cannabis marketplace. The Hogan administration has undermined the state government and workforce; rebuilding departments and attracting talented people should be a top priority. The Legislature should encourage this revitalization, and also promote other reforms, including allowing mail-in ballots to be counted before Election Day. 

Housing costs have become an increasingly big problem for Marylanders. This issue is large and has many aspects, and too many people are struggling to afford their rent or mortgages, or facing evictions. We strongly support Delegate Wilkins’s Stable Homes Act to give renters additional rights and protect them against unjust evictions, as well as the construction of more housing in order to lower prices. And people facing eviction should have the right to good legal representation. If people can’t afford to live in Maryland, all our improvements will be of little help. 

Transportation is another area where the Legislature can take action to improve quality of life, and to help reduce climate change and protect the environment. We ask the Legislature to dedicate additional resources to improving our bus system, complete the Purple Line and help the businesses around it, and improve the contracting process to stop cost overruns and delays; the Legislature should also revive the Red Line transit project that was canceled by Hogan.

Wes Moore and Aruna Miller have also promised to boost the economy for all Marylanders, and that includes supporting unions, higher wages, and better working conditions. The $15 per hour minimum wage was a step in the right direction but it is not enough. The Legislature’s top priorities should include: accelerated implementation of the $15 per hour minimum wage, linking this wage to inflation so it automatically goes up, and making it easier for Marylanders to join unions and engage in collective bargaining. 

Finally, we strongly urge the Legislature to support Wes Moore’s proposal for a statewide service year program, allowing all Maryland high school graduates to serve for a year in a public service role. In return, they would receive job training, mentorship, and compensatory tuition at Maryland public colleges and universities. One of our proudest initiatives is when we encourage young people to help their communities in some way or start projects to assist those around them. This can range from funding projects to reduce food waste, which were started by high schoolers, getting involved in local government, or coming up with new ideas to reduce discrimination. The service year program is an excellent idea that has potential to inspire a lot of young people, and the Legislature should do its part to get it off the ground.

Thank you very much. Please contact us at mocoyoungdems@gmail.com if you have any questions. 

Montgomery County Young Democrats August 2022 Meeting Minutes-Climate Change and the County

The Montgomery County Young Democrats meeting began at 7 PM at White Oak Library. We began by reviewing our finances-we currently had $9,773.84 in our bank account and the last big expenditure was $243.67 at the happy hour after the rally for Wes Moore for Governor.

We also urged everyone to attend our Paint the County Blue fundraiser/mixer from 1-4 PM on Saturday, September 17th. It will be hosted by Councilmember Gabe Albornoz at his house; the address is 9810 Summit Ave, Kensington MD 20895.

MCYD then heard presentations on climate change, its impact on Montgomery County, and what we can do to stop it.

Wandra Ashley-Williams from Climate XChange spoke first. She emphasized that climate change is causing more extreme weather conditions and disasters, including heat. Polluters need to pay their fair share for the harm they have caused. Last session the Maryland Legislature passed the Climate Solutions Now Act, which sets an aggressive carbon reduction program, but more action is needed.

Wandra urged MCYD to support to support the Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act, which would charge oil companies a fee for the pollution they cause. The bill would raise $1 billion, with half of that money going to infrastructure and 40% going to help the communities most impacted by climate change. It would have a no passthrough provision, so companies can’t pass costs on to consumers. Climate XChange is encouraging everyone to make this bill a priority and join the Maryland Coalition in support of it, currently consisting of 66 organizations.

Luca Grifo-Han from the Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights spoke next. Their goal is to get an amendment guaranteeing the right of everyone to a clean environment in the Maryland Constitution. This amendment would affect all bills and have a far-reaching impact; moreover there is precedent since other states have environmental amendments. New York recently approved an amendment by 70%.

Amendments to the Maryland Constitution need to be pass both legislative houses by a three fifths majority and then be ratified by the voters. Last session the environmental amendment did not make it out of committee, partly due to opposition from Delegate Kumar Barve, but it will be brought back.

Adriana Hochberg from the Montgomery County Council was the final speaker. She pointed out that climate change has increased Montgomery County temperatures by 2 degrees Fahrenheit, resulted in more heats alerts, storms, and flooding (especially flash floods). The County intends to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, improve energy performance standards, and develop a countrywide comprehensive flooding plan. People in garden-level apartments are especially vulnerable.

The County has a climate action plan that you can read, and a bunch of summer interns and workers who are putting together projects. The Inflation Reduction Act, which just passed Congress, includes $369 billion for combatting climate change.

MCYD then had a lively discussion and asked numerous questions, and then adjourned until next month.

Montgomery County Young Democrats Condemn the Supreme Court’s Overturning of Roe v. Wade

The Montgomery County Young Democrats strongly condemn the just decided Dobbs v. Jackson decision, which overturns Roe v. Wade and jeopardizes the right to have an abortion. For fifty years this decision secured the constitutional right to privacy and abortion in the United States, and we are appalled that women and pregnant people in 26 states will soon likely have little or no access to reproductive care. 

Six right-wing justices, disregarding precedent, history, and basic women’s rights, have decided to strip this right away. 

​​Our state legislatures are and will continue to be the last line of defense in the battle for protecting reproductive health, reproductive rights, and women’s rights. Thankfully in Maryland we have a legislature that is committed to these goals. 

MCYD stands firm in our commitment to protect these rights for all Marylanders. 

We will continue to press for legislation that prohibits the criminalization of women, pregnant persons, and those who support them in accessing care. We also urge Governor Larry Hogan to immediately release the $3.5 million in funds for an abortion provider training program that he is withholding. 

Finally, this decision jeopardizes other fundamental privacy rights including access to contraception, marriage equality, and the freedom to be openly gay. Justice Clarence Thomas has already written that he wants to overturn the rulings safeguarding these rights. As a result, MCYD believes we should expand the Supreme Court to limit the damage that these corrupt justices can cause. 

We urge everyone to get involved in fighting for abortion rights, and to march, donate, organize, and run for office. A list of organizations to donate to can be found here.

Thank You for MoCo Young Democrats Alumni Day/Ice Cream Social

Last Saturday, May 21st, the Montgomery County Young Democrats held an Alumni Day/Ice Cream Social in Acorn Park in downtown Silver Spring. We heard from Delegates Gabriel Acevero, Marc Korman, Emily Shetty, and Jheanelle Wilkins, Gaithersburg Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles, and Samir Paul about getting involved in politics.

Some of the advice: be able to do smaller tasks and deliver on them. Eventually you will take on bigger and bigger issues. Be intentional about one thing and bring your friends. And keep in touch with your state legislators–they are very accessible and eager to hear from you.

A big thank you to everyone who came, and we hope to do more events like this in the future.

Why Are Young People Not Voting? By Elizabeth Mehler

The biggest factors attributed to the low voter turnout among voters aged 18-29 are: lack of habit formation, obstacles to voting and/or registering, and the general discouragement around politics. 

Younger voters have simply had less opportunity to vote, and therefore less time to build the habit. Also people are influenced by external factors such as what they see their peers doing. Older people are more likely to observe friends, family members, and peers voting throughout many elections while young people are less likely to have that influence encouraging them to vote. 

Younger people are more likely to have jobs and financial situations that make it harder to take time off work to vote. It can also be more difficult for young people living in new and/or temporary places to learn the process of voting, registering, finding their polling place, and educating themselves on the local and national candidates. Younger people are less likely to have printers or other necessities to vote, or they may not know where to look for information on the electoral system

Young voters are historically not the most important demographic, due to their lower turnout, and therefore candidates’ campaigns are less focused on them and their concerns. Many young people feel their leaders don’t care about their input and feel generally discouraged around politics. This creates a feedback loop and  reinforces the idea that young people’s votes are unimportant and their input is not valued. 

Voter Turnout in Montgomery County

In the 2020 presidential election 537,935 people voted in Montgomery County. According to the Maryland State Board of Education, as of October 17, 2020 there were 673,198 registered voters. The general election turnout for Montgomery County voters was 79% for the 2020 elections. More than 127,700 voted during the early-voting period and the county received about 331,000 mail-in ballots.

How to Increase Youth Voter Turnout?

Educate Teenagers and Young Adults: Voting is a civic practice that needs to be learned. New voters should be actively taught how to register to vote, how to find a polling place, and  how to fill out and cast a ballot. One of the most beneficial ways to improve youth voter turnout is educating young people on the logistics of voting. 

Educating young people on voting needs to start within schools. Schools should take the time to teach students the process of voting, how to fill out a ballot, how to find where to vote and getting students registered (or pre registered) to vote, which can have a tremendous impact on youth voter turnout within their community. Research from a CIRCLE youth survey found that “youth who reported having been either encouraged to vote or taught how to register to vote in high school are more likely to vote and participate in other civic activities and are more knowledgeable about voting processes.” The survey also found that “students who had not received encouragement to vote from teachers in high school were more than twice as likely to agree with the statement ‘Voting is a waste of time’ as those who had been encouraged: 26% vs. 12%.” Increasing youth voter turnout must start within schools, teaching kids the importance of voting at formative ages. It is very worthwhile to work with schools to improve the information taught about voting and ensure kids are leaving school knowledgeable about the voting process.   

Automatic Voter Registration: Automatic voter registration (AVR) is the idea that when citizens reach the voting age, they are added to the voter rolls without having to register themselves. The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) passed by congress in 1993 created a new way to vote. The NVRA required most states to provide citizens the opportunity to register to vote when applying or renewing a driver’s license at the DMV, and has been implemented in Maryland. 

Since Oregon became the first state in the nation to imple­ment AVR in 2016, the state has seen voter regis­tra­tion rates quadruple at DMV offices. Although the NVRA has a substantial impact on voter registration throughout the country, it still doesn’t reach everyone. Another example: Sweden has a virtually automatic enrollment system–voter registration is automatic and proof of registration is sent to the homes of every eligible Swedish citizen for elections. Data from the Pew Research Center places Sweden as having the second highest voter turnout in the world with a voter turnout of 82.61%. 

Registering to vote is often the biggest obstacle of the voting process in America. Automatic voter registration is proven to have an immense effect on voter turnout and is worth advocating for as youth voter turnout especially would increase. 

Please reach out to us at mocoyoungdems@gmail.com if you have any questions, or would like to get involved in boosting voter turnout.

Next MoCo Young Democrats Meeting Will Be on Cannabis Legalization-7 PM, Tuesday, February 15th

Our next Montgomery County Young Democrats meeting will be on cannabis legalization at 7 PM, Tuesday, February 15th. We will have a panel of experts to talk about legalizing and taxing cannabis and how to do it properly, ensuring that the community benefits from the taxes, how people convicted of cannabis-related crimes will be impacted, and how to promote racial justice in this area. Register here to attend via Zoom.