CHICAGO — In the final days before the 2023 Chicago election, it’s the youngest voters who are, in many ways, being courted and encouraged.
Chicago Votes is a non-profit working to inspire residents to cast their ballots.
“Our focus is to engage young people and young people are really energized around this election,” Stevie Valles, the co-executive director of Chicago Votes, said. “I think because there are so many different candidates, young people feel they have a bunch of options.”
Chicago Votes brings young voters, most for the first time, to their polling place. They work to make voting accessible and understandable.
“When you vote, you become a constituent that whoever is elected, has to pay attention to,” Valles said.
For this election, the organization has put together a voter’s guide detailing where each mayoral candidate stands on key issues.
“Policing, community relations, with the police,” Valles said. “People are really excited to vote for the police district councils that are new on the ballot this year. Young people are also inspired or they find environmental issues very important.”
Valles said the organization has been doing civic talks inside jails to help give incarcerated people the opportunity to vote for the first time.
It’s a way to engage and normalize a basic duty and show those who are historically less apt to vote the reason to do it.
“So when young people vote, whoever gets elected as mayor or alderperson, they have to pay attention to the things you want to see happen because they work for you,” Valles said. “But if you don’t vote, you’re not a constituent that’s counted and your issues can be ignored so it’s important to turn out and make your voice heard.”