Alicia Keys lends her advice on Voting
Jul 20, 2012 | News Archive
Alicia Keys lends her advice on Voting

There were about 60 young women ranging from ages 17 to 21 years of age who were invited to the Women for Obama Leadership Luncheon, hosted on Temple University's Campus. The event was focused on voting and campaign awareness for first time voters. Many attendees were unsure of what the event exactly entailed, but were excited to meet new people and learn new concepts. And what better way to ignite some political fire than to get to talk to Grammy Winning Artist Alicia Keys and White House Chief Advisor Valarie Jarrett! Oh, and might I add- there were several “incognito” secret service officers dressed in cliché black suits talking into their collar as per usual. So this event was very important to the campaign by the call to action keynote speeches and diverse audience!

There were also some female mentors seated at each one of the dozen tables, like Jeri Lynn-Johnson, Founder of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra and Philadelphia City Council Member Blondel Reynolds Brown. Mentors served as "discussion moderators" at each table. From my observation, this event was about courting potential young voters and resurfacing the same youth energy we saw in the 2008 election.  Interestingly enough, most of the attendees were invited via word of mouth. From their pastors and Girltini Groups to Temple’s collegiate chapter of the National Association of Negro Women. Whichever pathway lend them to the luncheon, it had less association with a political specific faction. So by all means, this was an introduction to politics. Alicia Keys and Valerie Jarrett were the “celebrities” who were deployed to court these young girls into becoming more politically engaged. Alicia Keys talked briefly about how each attendee should encourage their friends to vote and become a neighborhood mascot to voting. It was a great tactic (and good advice) and I really think they inspired a lot of the young women to get involved.


In Valerie Jarrett’s speech, she told this really nurturing story about President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s upbringing.  Jarrett also went into campaign mode and talked about why Mitt Romney cannot be elected in November. Using terms like “free market” and “the trickle down theory,” I scanned the room and saw a lot of confused facial expressions. Many of these girls had no idea what those terms meant and may have not been political science majors, so to speak. But, after getting some post interviews, attendees were very much willing to learn more about the campaign, the issues and how it directly relates to thier future.

Both candidates, whether running in the senatorial or presidential race, need to figure out how to communicate their platforms so that they resonate personally within each voter. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, we have seen a steady increase in young voter participation starting in 2004 and jumping to three million more young voters in 2008. However, in 2012, young voters have a lot at stake. Political awareness is definitely something that needs to be enhanced. Moreover, with the change in the voter I.D. law, it is proving to be a significant impact in voter turnout in November 2012. Many teens are not registered to vote even though they may have a driver’s license.  In most states, “ students might get a driver's license at the age of 16, but not be offered the opportunity to register to vote until renewing their licenses four years later. In the interim, countless students could miss their opportunity to cast a ballot. This is a huge problem that contributes to the disenfranchisement of younger voters.

In efforts to help out the recent restrictions amongst young voters, Microsoft has developed a voter registration application for Facebook that will allow Facebook users to register to vote via their profiles. Once potential voters have signed up, they can share their “I’m Registered” badge on their newsfeeds, which further encourages their Facebook friends to do the same. It’s about social participation. You can read more here:


One thing is for sure that this election is very much contingent on the  "effectiveness" of the new voter i.d. stipulations which vary within states.



Here are some basics:


  • Voter Registration Deadline is October 6, 2012
  • Getting a Photo ID is FREE. Go to your local PennDOT Driver’s License Center and indicate you need a voter ID.  Find a site here:
  • In order to get a voter ID card, you need two forms of valid identifications, like: a social security card, birth certification, and proof of residency, like a bill, a lease, etc…


Posted By: Melissa Henderson