Vote for Human Rights Toolkit

Did you know you have a human right to vote in your government’s elections? America is notorious for its low voter turnout, with only a little over a third of eligible voters are predicted to vote in these 2018 midterm elections. So, the question becomes: Why is this happening? Why are so many voting-age Americans not voting? This toolkit looks at the voting rights of U.S. citizens and is meant to help you educate voters and encourage their participation in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

Voting in the U.S. Fast Facts

  • The right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, including the right to vote and to stand for election, is at the core of democratic governments based on the will of the people. Genuine elections are thus a necessary and fundamental component of an environment that protects and promotes human rights.The right to vote and be elected in genuine, periodic elections is intrinsically linked to a number of other human rights, the enjoyment of which is crucial to a meaningful electoral process. These prerequisite rights include the right to freedom from discrimination, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly, and the right to freedom of movement. (OHCHR)
  • The Census Bureau estimated that there were 245.5 million Americans ages 18 and older in November 2016, about 157.6 million of whom reported being registered to vote.
    • According to the Secretary of State, 17.8 million of the 24.3 million eligible California adults were registered to vote just before the 2014 general election.
    • According to the Campus Vote Project, only 17% of 18-24-year-olds voted in the 2014 midterm elections.

“#TheFutureIsVoting” (1:00)

HRW Student Task Force Fall Leadership Workshop Video (24:36)

Voter Registration

Voter Education

  • Voting Rights are Human Rights by the ACLU
  • Where does it say you have the right to vote?
    • Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 21
      1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
      2. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
      3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
    • United States Constitution:
      • 15th Amendment: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
      • 19th Amendment: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
      • 26th Amendment: The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
    • United States Voting Rights Act of 1965: This law prohibits voting practices and procedures that discriminate based on race, color, or membership in a language minority group. It also requires certain jurisdictions to provide election materials in languages other than English.
  • Check out the Official California Voter Information Guide for the November 6 election! 
  • Host a High School Voter Education Week event the last two weeks of September: The California Education Code designates the last two full weeks in April and September to be High School Voter Education Weeks. This provides an opportunity for high schools and their students to partner with county elections officials to promote civic education and participation on campus and foster an environment that cultivates lifelong voters and active citizens. Check out some best practices ideas shared by County Elections Offices

Getting Voters to the Polls

#WhyDoYouVote? (1:00)

  • Lyft and Uber are offering free and half-priced rides on election day!
  • Be a Student Poll Worker: Starting at age 16, high school students who are U.S. citizens, maintain a 2.5 grade point average, and have permission from their parent or guardian and school can learn how elections are run while they earn money as a student poll worker on Election Day. Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for a stipend ranging from $65 to $150.
  • 5 Myths About Voting by Teaching Tolerance
  • Why Don’t Americans Vote? by the Sanders Institute
  • “No offense, but I never note” by the LA Times

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