Maine has joined the campaign to engage young people in grassroots democracy.  The effort, Youth Work Makes the Booth Work (YMTB), seeks to inspire youth to volunteer in their local elections in November.  The website www.youthworkmakestheboothwork.org offers guidance for getting involved and suggestions for high school and college students and educators to pursue “hands-on” learning through engagement in the election.  

YMTB is a response to the needs faced by many election sites resulting from greater voter turnout, expected shortages of poll workers, and mail-in balloting.  This election is a prime opportunity for polling stations, young people, schools and colleges to engage our youngest voters in their most basic responsibility as Americans. 

The YMTB website is oriented towards youth.  It offers practical information about “how you can help at the polls”, including step-by-step procedures for volunteering or seeking paid positions as poll workers. Youth and educators will find an array of learning activities and resources on the site, many structured as independent learning projects ideal for students having to learn remotely. The site also includes articles and research that make the case for early participation in the election process by our nation’s youth. Recently Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap spoke to the youth steering committee, commending the group on its focus, and offering to help answer any election-worker related questions that come up in the next two weeks.

“Youth Work” emerged from conversations among a small group of Maine educators and concerned citizens linked to similar efforts in other states.  The project is collaborating with the Maine League of Women Voters, The Coalition of Independent Charter Schools, Democracy Maine, and has been endorsed by Professor Peter Levine at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University.  For more information about this effort, please contact Emanuel Pariser at Emanuel@gwi.net, or go to the website http://www.youthworkmakestheboothwork.org