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Collaboration on #16ToVote Project: House Joint Resolution 23

A circle of hands joined together. We need to do the same thing for H J Res 23. & the time to do that might just be now and we need to act on it.

I normally don’t write blog posts outside of the 16th each month, let alone post them days in advance. However, recent developments have warranted the need to do so. I will try my best to provide those reasons in the following few paragraphs. Most of these will center around House Joint Resolution 23(H J Res 23), the national bill by Grace Meng to lower the voting age to 16, but this can also help local efforts too. I will start from least important to the most pressing reason why we should collaborate on a strategic plan on how to tackle enfranchising youth. If you’re in any sort of youth political rights group, regardless of your organization’s strategy regarding expanding enfranchisement, then it is important that you not only read the following paragraphs but also share it with those in your network as well. Otherwise, all our efforts, individually or jointly, will be for nothing in regards to the national conversation on lowering the voting age.

I attended a recent webinar that was hosted by the Atlantic Council regarding democratic alliances worldwide as a response to the emergence of more authoritarian ways of governing that have recently surfaced in the last few years, threatening the spread of democracy. The webinar was mostly moderated by Ryan Heath, a Senior Editor of Politico. After the event, I wrote a Twitter thread post regarding the webinar that I was hoping might bring attention to lowering the voting age in general as well as H J Res 23. The thread was later RTd by Heath, where I suggested that as democracies around the world mobilize to combat more authoritarian modes of governance, democracies should also consider lowering the voting age to 16 if they have not already done so. My post was not only RTd by a Political Senior Editor of one of the largest political news media source outlets of the world, but I was also given a follow. Shortly after, I contacted the media outlet to speak with Heath about possibly using this interest to look at H J Res 23 as well as doing something similar for democracies around the world. I have been forwarded to a journalist who specializes in the area of voting rights and awaiting a response at this time.

The significance of this is that Politico has previously done stories about lowering the voting age before, so I know interest would be high if we can mobilize a concerted efforts among groups throughout the United States who are interested in working together on H J Res 23. As I mentioned in previous blog posts, I think this is possible. I know it is possible. I think Politico would be even more interested if we can conduct a multi-organization effort that demonstrates how serious we are, especially if that focus is nationally. We might even be able to lower the voting age to 16 nationally for certain this time- if we can successfully develop a plan to work together through H J Res 23. With the ear of Politico, we might also be able to garner attention to this nationwide. For that, I could use your help of any and all supporters in this field.

The second thing is House Joint Resolution 23 itself. As the bill is billed, to pardon the pun, as a piece of legislation for the 117th Congress in the 2021-2022 term, and given that the holiday season is coming up, it is unlikely it will come up for a vote this year. When it was introduced in early February of this year, we had two full years to consider for when it would be heard- it could have been discussed this summer, last month, sometime next year, etc.. With the pandemic mostly delaying passage of many bills & 2021 being nearly over, with the winter recess approaching, we can safely assume that if it is heard, then it will likely be sometime next year, before the elections to determine the political makeup of the subsequent two year Congress. This means that H J Res 23 will likely be heard sometime in the next year, but not in 2023. I don’t know what procedures exist to extend that if it isn’t, but I’m preparing as though it will be up for discussion in 2022. For us, if there’s to be any sort of collaborative action on our part, it would also have to be around the time the bill is being considered. Collaboration could come in the form of phone banking, social media Tweetstorming, contacting local representatives, traditional media like political magazines, other media outlets, etc. Basically, any action that increases the chance of passing the bill, bringing awareness of it and letting people like its sponsors know we support them and want it to pass.

The most significant part of the things dealing with H J Res 23 is that this delay has both pros and cons. Pros are is we’ve narrowed down the discussion expectancy to within a year instead of two(2022). This also gives us an advantage regarding the waiting period, focusing on a shorter time frame than needing to stay vigilant for two years. The disadvantage is that assuming things progress where bills start getting discussed again, it will likely be a dash for all other bills that were delayed. This means we would have to make more noise to garner attention for other competing bills. Obviously, getting in touch with Politico could give us a big advantage. Reaching out to additional media outlets also helps, so not only having a robust social media team to bring awareness to the bill is needed, but also social media savvy individuals who can do this. If there’s some sort of concerted collaborative effort among organizations based in the U.S., then we can tip the scale towards the pros of the delay by using the time to plan and effectively strategize until the bill is heard.

Lastly, this might not be a conclusive gamechanger in the efforts, but it is definitely a concern that would need careful consideration. This has to do with our current Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. This may be the most important facet of my plan, so I’ve broken it down into two parts.

1.) Although I did not devote a whole post to this previously because of the unpredictable nature of politics, I did touch on this in one of my blog posts from last year- this may possibly by Nancy Pelosi’s final term as the Speaker of the House. Much of the information I’ve heard of regarding this development is obviously speculation, as she might not be on her last term. Even she is reluctant to specify what her plans are, as she hasn’t concretely said she will not run. Although she has no involvement with the crafting of the H J Res 23 bill, she is the highest political office holder known to date who supports lowering the voting age to 16. She has done it on two occasions, once in 2015 and again in 2019. It’s all in the blog post I mentioned above. Obviously, with a bill like HJ Res 23, the groundwork I’ve laid in building connections with diverse groups during the past year and Speaker Pelosi’s supposed impending retirement next, this is one opportunity we cannot afford to let slip.

2.) This may be the most important part of the two-part plan regarding Pelosi- Also part of this plan is that we may have contacts to the Office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi herself thanks to my efforts and connections. Actual contact info! However, I don’t think any politician’s emails should be thrown about loosely on the internet superhighway lest the Speaker opt for a new one, requiring we find another means to get that one. Much less perhaps one of the most supporters of lowering the voting age. This would require just as much strategic planning, if not more, than even the awareness campaign itself for H J Res 23. I can pass on what I have in this regard, but I would like to pass this sensitive info only to the most trusted in my circle and highest of leadership among the most committed. I would also like to strategize about the merits of whether we should contact her all individually, regardless of organization affiliation, each individual organization, all together as a multi-organizational group(several groups signing on to just one letter) or a combination of these. Each individual option by itself has its pros and cons, so that is what I would like to discuss with groups who are willing to speak with me regarding Pelosi’s contact info. Obviously, flooding her inbox with random messages without any sort of cohesion or collaboration would be no more different than someone spamming someone’s inbox with junk mail, so if something is sent, it should be the highest caliber communication that we can send to the third highest office holder in the land.

I’ve laid out an argument above for the means of mass awareness for the cause (Politico), the need to focus our efforts on the means to get us the results of lowering the voting age(in the U.S., through H J Res 23) and possibly getting in touch, maybe even the endorsement of the highest official in the land to support it and bring it back into public dialogue(Speaker Pelosi through my contacts).

While I’ve laid as much groundwork for this as possible as an individual, I am not in it for the credit, as I understand I am not the only contributor to this effort- plenty of individuals I’ve met, several organizations and even many politicians also support the idea of a lowered voting age. I want any success on the outcome of this effort to be shared, not hogged. I’m always available for discussion on anything mentioned here or on previous blogs, so let’s talk so others can have their voices heard as well.

Jеstеr Jеrsеy


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