Photo courtesy Calli Jones-Valerius
Photo courtesy Calli Jones-Valerius

“The idea of young people voting scares politicians, as it should.”

Younger voters in Arizona—and across the country—have historically cast their ballots in lower numbers than older generations.

Calli Jones-Valerius is confident that this year, things will be different.

“With the critical nature of this election, we will be fighting every day until November—making sure we have the highest youth voter turnout we have ever seen in Arizona,” Jones-Valerius told The Copper Courier.

Jones-Valerius is the newly elected president of Young Democrats of Arizona (YDA), a youth branch of the Arizona Democratic Party with the primary goal of empowering individuals between 18 and 35 years old to be politically engaged by demanding change in communities across Arizona.

Young people are, indeed, poised to make a big impact in November. Recent research by The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) noted that “young people are a diverse bloc of voters and civic actors, and the ways in which they can affect elections are just as diverse.”

Young voters in Arizona can very well shift the power balance. According to CIRCLE, roughly one in five Arizonans are between 19 and 29 years old, with one-third of people in that age group identifying as Latino. In fact, young Latinos are largely credited with helping turn Arizona purple in recent years.

There’s another recent poll on voters age 18-34 in battleground states conducted by Global Strategy Group that shows exactly that. Almost one-third of voters in that age range are both registered to vote, and lean Democrat.

August Youth Battleground Tracker
Statistics courtesy of Global Strategy Group

Jones-Valerius said there are no words to properly describe the importance of the youth vote in this upcoming election. She explains, “The idea of young people voting scares politicians, as it should. We now hold the power to decide the outcome of elections.”

The Young Democrats of Arizona want our officials to understand that they have found their voices, so either our elected officials work to create a more equitable future for all or, as Jones-Valerius puts it, they can “expect an early retirement starting in November.”

The new YDAZ executive board and chapter leadership across Arizona are routinely running virtual voter registration drives, they’re hosting phone banks for Democratic candidates, and are actively pushing for responsible voting advice on all social media platforms. 

The new board of the Young Democrats of Arizona
The new board members were elected virtually. Photo courtesy of YDAZ

Most importantly, Jones-Valerius tells us YDAZ is helping young people sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List.  

So why is participation in this particular election year more important than ever? Jones-Valerius sums it up like this: “When we needed leadership, Trump was a coward. When we needed justice, Trump gave us tear gas and tanks in the streets. When we needed to fight COVID-19, Trump went golfing. Voting is our only hope for a better tomorrow.”

This election, the Young Democrats of Arizona will be offering an Election Day Mutual Aid Program for students voting on any of the three state university campuses. YDAZ members will be on-campus outside polling locations with water, food and resources to empower students to stay in line and make their voice heard by casting their vote. Those who want to support youth voting are also encouraged to make a donation to the Young Democrats of Arizona. 

“We could have Democrats polling above their Republican challengers by 20+ points across the state and we still would not slow down,” Jones-Valerius explains. “Young people will save this country in November.”

Young Democrats of Arizona
YDAZ at their Winter Convention in January 2020.