Youth Voter Awareness Campaign
The Youth Voter Awareness Campaign is part of a major project known as the Put A Woman Project of the Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women, a project designed to prepare women and young persons to participate in the local and general elections (2007-2008) and at the same time prepare the environment of a predominantly male governmental process for their participation in greater numbers.
The project has three major components:
- Political Skills Training using the Women’s Political Campaign Workbook
- Promotion of Youth Involvement in the Electoral Process
- Documentation of Women in Local Government 1946-2006
Put a Woman Project Goals
- To train women in all parties to understand the role and functioning of local government and parliament and in the skills required to introduce a gender perspective into the decision making process of government
- To provide a critical mass of competent, effective, gender-sensitive committed women politicians to influence decision-making in national political bodies through their direct participations as elected or appointed representatives
- To encourage increase participation by young people in the electoral process
- To collect, analyze and publish data on women’s contribution to local government in Trinidad and Tobago from 1946 – Present
- To prepare an enabling environment for women’s effective participation in the decision-making process at the highest level
Why Youths Need to be Involved?First, democracy is strongest when citizens participate and for too long, young people haven’t been full participants. Second, the best way to get politi¬cal leaders to pay attention to young people and their issues is to demonstrate that young people are a viable constituency that can be mobilized. By increasing the number of young people vot¬ing in a big way, issues affecting youth may quicker be addressed and politicians will start taking young people’s opinions seriously.
Studies by Yale Profes¬sors Don Green and Alan Gerber have shown that peer-to-peer personal contact can potentially affect turnout by 5 to 10 percentage points among registered voters. Green and Gerber Contacts need to be eligible voters, so the first step in achieving an increase in turnout is a large scale voter registration effort. When young people do register with a peer, they’re 62 percent likely to vote – so drives which target youth have a big impact.
Youth need to feel that their vote can make a difference. Many youth feel disconnected from the political system. They feel disillusioned and disempowered within the political process. The end result is that many of our youth in Trinidad and Tobago do not vote. They believe that issues affecting them are not taken seriously and they do not see many policies and issues debated by our political leaders as affecting them. Many of them are not even aware of the legislative policies and issues. This is why this Youth Voter Awareness Campaign is so important. It seeks to reach youth through exciting activities aimed at enlightening them and sensitizing them towards the electoral process and civic participation in the electoral process.
While the internet has transformed local, national, and global societies with new means of communications and information access through websites, e-mail and blogs, the mobile phone has emerged alongside it as anew tool for social civic and political action. Mobile phones are portable, affordable and in wide-spread use among youth. Text messaging is a major factor behind the popularity of mobile phones in addition to its usual voice capabilities.
This is a non-partisan campaign, so how these individuals vote is not the concern. It’s who votes, not how they vote that will make the biggest impact. The Youth Voter Awareness Campaign will reach out to all young voters without regard to their political affiliations or inclinations. Non-partisan efforts like these will begin to change the youth voting tide.
- To equip youths with the necessary political knowledge and skills to effectively participate in the electoral process
- To get youth to register to vote, to encourage them to know if they are registered to vote and to vote on election day
- To encourage increased participation by youths in the electoral process by delivering effective and clear messages
- To realize 50% increase in youth voter turnout
- To establish a Youth Manifesto – a manifesto by youths addressing social, political and economic issues that affect them
- To educate youths on the legislative process
- Reach as many young people as possible
The target age group for the campaign is 17-30 years and the Theme of the Youth Voter Awareness Campaign "The Youth Vote Can Make the Difference"
- Mobile Phone Use
- Voter Registration Blitz Campaign
- Running a blitz campaign is more efficient – there will be less time spent running the voter registration campaign if we register/contact people all in one giant push than if we register or contact people day in and day out for 4 weeks.
- Running a blitz campaign “makes them pay attention” – running a campaign where there’s a volunteer on every corner in front of every building for three days straight, the campus notices, the politicians notice, and it builds momentum for the entire campaign.
- Running a blitz campaign is more effective –simply put more people will be reached if we run a blitz. If we table every day, our efforts tend to reach the same small group of people, we will tend to start to fade in the background (after a while people will stop noticing what we are doing), and it wears people out. Imagine tabling for 4 hours each day for 4 weeks straight. Whoa. By running a blitz, we will overcome all those.
- Youth Voter Awareness Campaign Workshop
- TV/Radio Campaign - Visibility
- YOUTH VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVES
- Youth "Rock The Vote" Concert
- Promenade Concert
- Piggy Backs
We will organize a mini fete/concert for youths in which each person attending receives a bag containing our promotional items and information about voting and becoming more involved in the electoral process. It will be a fun event with a very serious undertone.
Post messages at different concerts and club shows taking place in Trinidad and Tobago. Trini Scene website usually has a reliable list of upcoming events. Work with promoters on this event.
- Youth Manifesto
- Parliament Visits
- Sit in on some parliament sessions to see how decision and policy makers operate
- To gain a better understanding of the legislator’s attitude, goals, values – work ethics
- Mobile Phone Use
- Public Information Meetings
- Bus Theatre
35 Young persons will be trained during a Youth Voter Awareness Campaign Workshop. Training includes Election and Boundaries Rules and Regulations, Messages to be delivered, Attitude of youth to peer to peer contact, toward voting and toward civic participation, communication and public relations, mediation skills, TV-Radio Media skills: interviewing techniques and presenting messages using the media.
A key way to reach a wide cross section of the population is to have a TV/Radio Campaign. Visibility is vital.
In each of these visibility waves, we can use a variety of tactics to create a “buzz” around registering to vote and voting. The messages need to be clear and it will be derived from the rationale for the project. Local celebrities should be used to deliver the messages via ad slots on TV and radio. In addition the youth participants should appear on TV shows such as Friday Nights Live, Synergy Nights, Gayelle New Voices, Mackerel Time, (Tempo if possible) etc. Shows such as these have an extensive, faithful youth audience that will hear the messages.
The Campaign needs to be attractive in order to catch the audience. Although it is hype, attractive and fun it must also get the message across: register, know if you are registered to vote, be aware of issues affecting you as a youth and be pro-active: join organizations addressing issues that you are concerned with, go to your local constituency office, form your own organization.
Some ideas include: having the newspaper include a daily countdown to elections day (when it is announced) and information on the polling locations; having staffed information tables all over campus, busy intersections with signs, leaflet, chalk, poster, flyer, etc. Materials should contain simple messages and have information on how to vote and obtain information about their choices.
In addition, we can have activities geared towards helping educate people about the Election Day activities, such as mock election polling station activities, mock debates, live candidate debates for local races, etc. We want to think big here and go for volume. Posters, banners and huge props are only one part of the equation – media coverage, advertising and promotions for our work are equally important in meeting our goals.
The target is to reach approximately 20,000 youths or 25,000 youths. Youths are going to be asked if they know if and where they are registered to vote or given advice on how to get registered to vote. We are targeting Malls, Sporting facilities, Tertiary state-owned educational facilities (UWI, COSTATT), Outside national library in Port of Spain, Arima, San Fernando and Chaguanas as well as The Youth Expo I-Stand.
These are locations where youth have a few minutes to be able to listen. For example the cinema/movie theatre or the club may not be a good location because there is little or no time to stop to listen.
One suggestion is to partner with a popular night club such as Zen or Fifty One Degrees. The event will be a “Youth Vote Night” (some other fun name may be suggested). However there will be local entertainers performing (probably 2-3). During each set they will relay a message to be delivered. In addition there will be t’shirt or key rings being distributed. A suggestion is that if your name is on the Registered Voters List supplied to us by the Elections and Boundaries Commission then you will enter free. Otherwise you pay.
Young persons trained in the workshops, will go to the different constituencies / municipal areas around Trinidad and Tobago asking other youths to fill out a questionnaire in order to identify the issues that concern youths. The intention here is to get a cross section of the opinion of youth in the nation on issues that affect them. Participants will decide on issues that are most important to them. Then they will organize voter participation around those key issues.
After collecting all the issues it will be placed in our Youth Manifesto. This youth manifesto will be published in the press and the document presented to our political leaders.
Mobile phones and Text messaging will be used to promote Youth Voter Awareness Campaign Activities to the public and to encourage youth to register and vote. Text messaging can be used to text “Rock the Vote” messages to users of a particular mobile network. It can also invite users to download their favorite “Rock the Vote” ring tones, to vote for their favorite “Rock the Vote” ring tone, to enter a chat room and text messages to their friends and family members.
Each meeting will focus on one issue. With enough publicity and if the problem is widespread many people can be attracted. A list of demands, concerns, complaints etc must be made before the meeting. Youths from each political party will set up a booth with information about their political party and their leaders invited to answer questions and to give short statements.
Youth participants will be trained to perform on buses and to deal with crowd responses. They will go to various locations throughout Trinidad during a short skit and then engaging in active discussions with members of the public. They will also distribute information and promotional items.
Mobile phone use will allow us to deliver an abstract or light version of content or call to action on the small mobile phone screen and invite more detailed content via the Web and e-mail. As highly personalized means of communication text messaging allows us to bypass the mass media when targeting young voters with electoral messages.
An attractive slogan that appeals to youths is essential to a youth voter campaign drive. Our suggestion for the slogan is “Make Your Mark”, “Vote”, “The Youth Vote is Key”, Voting…I in dat”, “We Registered and Ready”, “We Ready”, “Are you Ready”, “Vote for You”.