Tuesday, February 18, 2020

To: Vice President Joe Biden; Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard; Senator Amy Klobuchar; Senator Bernie Sanders; Tom Steyer; and, Senator Elizabeth Warren

From: MOVE Texas Action Fund, Texas Rising Action, Jolt Initiative, Texas Youth Rise

Re: Young People Made Texas a Battleground State

Dear 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates,

On behalf of the millions of young people who call the Lone Star State home: Welcome to Texas, the nation’s largest battleground state. We’ve noticed a disconcerting trend across all of your campaigns and want to ask a simple question: Where have you been?

A poll released this morning from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University finds that 66% of Millennial and Gen Z Texans polled, including 75% of Latinx voters, have not heard from a campaign or political party. With early voting starting today, that is more than two-thirds of young voters who have not been contacted, engaged, nor mobilized. How can you expect to be competitive in a state where you do not invest resources in the one in three voters under the age of 30?

Collectively, our organizations have registered tens of thousands of young Texans despite some of the most restrictive voter suppression tactics in the country. We do so because empowering young voters is critical, not just to win elections, but to strengthen our democracy. Do not take our votes for granted.

Together, we are building a new generation of Texas voters who are fundamentally changing the electorate of this state and this country. 43% of Texans are under the age of 30 years old, and 63% of us are people of color: We are young, black, brown, and we are voting. 

Since 2016, more than a million voters under the age of 25 have been added to the Texas voter rolls and will be voting for the first time this year. Voting becomes a habit when fostered and invested in by non-profits, political parties, and yes, candidates. You are doing a disservice to your candidacies by not putting resources behind getting out the youth vote. More importantly, you are showing a contemptuous disregard for the power of our voices. The young people of Texas deserve better.

Youth voter turnout in Texas has tripled between the last two midterms, an increase that has changed the political narrative in Texas. Our organizations are building upon that dramatic increase to build political power for the young people who made this state a battleground. Texas is one of the youngest states in the country, a state rich with diversity, culture, and 262 Democratic delegates up for grabs. You need to do more to earn every one of them.

In the coming weeks before Super Tuesday, we hope to see these numbers change. We hope to see you and your campaigns meaningfully engage with young voters about the issues facing our generation — climate change, criminal justice reform, healthcare, student loan debt, immigration justice — and work intentionally to mobilize our communities.

For democracy,