Organizations Engaging The Youth Vote

To prepare for the March 15 Florida Primary Preference Election, different organizations are helping students navigate the upcoming competition.

The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Vote Everywhere initiative focuses on training college student ambassadors to open up dialogue on social justice issues and help classmates sign up to vote. With 104 student Vote Everywhere Ambassadors across the country, six students who are passionate about politics are spread out at Wolfson, Kendall and North Campus.

“I care about making others care,” said Maydee Martinez, 20, a Wolfson Campus political science major and Vote Everywhere Ambassador Team Leader.

She feels her views and those of millennial voters are not represented in the local, state and federal government.  Martinez’s civic activism reflects her desire to get her generation’s voice heard.

Martinez is working toward the foundation’s goal to increase the participation of young voters in elections. Besides being part of AGF, Martinez is also part of the leadership for Engage Miami, a youth political engagement program, and has served as a Campus Vote Project Representative for the College during the 2014 Florida midterm elections.

The Andrew Goodman Foundation has a presence at 41 universities across 19 states and created a partnership with Miami Dade College on September of 2015.  Since August of 2015, the AGF has registered 10,000 new voters, 833 of which have been from Miami Dade College.

“We train our students, really leave it up to the students to identify what the needs are in their community and create events that reflect student needs and are really tailored to their campus,” said AGF strategic development manager, Jonian Rafti.  

The Andrew Goodman Foundation is named after the 20-year-old Queens College student who in 1964 was murdered in Mississippi by the Ku Klux Klan for joining the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project to work registering Black residents who were barred from voting.

In order to open up dialogue on social justice issues and help classmates sign up to vote, Martinez has connected with the Service Learning Ideas and Curricular Examples (SLICE) program. Headed by the Institute For Civic Engagement and Democracy director at the Wolfson and Interamerican Campus Director, Tamica Ramos, SLICE is made up of student leaders (including Martinez) focused on mobilizing students to work toward voter registration and involvement.

“Our civic health in Miami and in Florida is very low, which means that we don’t have a very strong voter turnout,” Ramos said. “We have a very uninformed populace and we know that the more people are informed and engaged, the more power they have to make a change in our community.”

SLICE and Martinez has scheduled an event on March 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the building 3 breezeway at Wolfson Campus with food, games and a presidential impersonation competition for students and faculty. It will also feature a mock election in which participants will vote based on candidate platforms, without knowing which one belongs with which.

Martinez will also be hosting a “March to the Polls” event on March 11, encouraging students to go to government center and vote early. She will also manage a Democracy YOUnited discussion on March 22 and 29 in Room 3410-5 at Wolfson Campus. The events focus on the victors of the Florida Primaries, their positions, and predictions for who will win the general election.

For those interested in taking part in the candidate impersonation contest, sign up at the Wolfson Campus ICED office in Room 3410 or call (305) 504-2990. Information on the other events or possible participation in AGF can be found by calling Martinez at (786) 250-9233.

Alexander Aspuru

Alexander F. Aspuru, 18, is a liberal arts major in the Honors College at Kendall Campus. He will serve as a staff writer during the 2015-2016 school year. Aspuru, who graduated from Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in 2015, aspires to work in Antarctica as part of the McMurdo Station support staff.