CCOP News

CCOP Be My Vote Campaign SUCCESS

Up Front Teen Speakers

November 04, 2009

October 30th - November 3rd, Camden based youth conducted a successful non-partisan voter mobilization drive that has left many youth and faith communities inspired and hungry for more civic engagement. 

The churches who helped make this campaign possible were St. Anthony of Pauda, St. Bartholomew's, Camden Bible Tabernacle, the Romero Center, and St. Joseph's Pro-Cathedral.  Over 50 Camden based teenagers, too young to vote took part in the 5 days of activities, over 1000 voters were contacted, and three media sources covered the campaign. (photos here)

Here are is an overview of the 5 day campaign

Friday October 30th - Campaign Kick-off with City Hall Rally, teen speakers included Joel Colon, St. Anthony of Padua; Bianca Nieves, St. Anthony of Padua; Imani House, St. Bartholomew's ; Marie Perez,  St. Joseph's Pro-Cathedral; Erasmo Rivera "Mito"; St. Anthony of Padua; Kalynn Parker, St. Bartholomew's; and Michelle Obasi, St. Joseph's Pro-Cathedral. Teens and adults gathered kicked off the campaign with prayer, song, testimony, and t-shirts

Sunday, November 1st - Teen testimonies at Faith Services; youth leaders at St. Anthony, St. Bartholomew's, and St. Joseph's all took a few moments during their respective religious services to make an appeal to all voters to promise the youth of Camden that they will vote on Tuesday

Monday, November 2nd - Teen Street Teams; 40 + teens took to the streets after school Monday to get Camden voters to promise to vote on Tuesday. One team was located at the corner of 27th and River Road and the other team was located at 7th and Kaighn Avenue.  Between the two teams, over 400 voters were contacted and made verbal promises to vote.   Teens gave away personalized cards that read "I promised (Teen name) to vote on November 3rd" 

Tuesday, November 3rd - Teen Celebration and Campaign Evaluation; over pizza and juice teens and adult leaders who took part in the 5-day campaign shared stories, reflected on the work they did, and began brainstorming about the possibilities of future civic engagement.   

"Why are we asking you to be our Vote?" message developed by youth

All of the youth gathered here today are too young to vote next Tuesday November 3rd, but not having a vote does not mean we don't have a voice. We live, worship, play, learn, and grow-up within these 9 square miles of Camden.  Everything that happens in this city affects us. Every political decision, every crime, every lost job, every abandoned house, every wall marked by graffiti, every drug corner, every law, every city council resolution, every vote eventually leaves its trace or our face. This is our home and we are calling on all the adults in this city to do what they are supposed to do and VOTE!

The "Be My Vote" campaign, is not about voting for any particular candidate.  In fact we don't care who you vote for.  We are not going to tell you how to vote; you are an adult and should do your own homework. What we are going to tell you is that you have a responsibility, and you need to take it seriously. The youth of Camden are watching you and are counting on all of you to not let us down.  Our futures depend on it. 

During the last Mayoral election the city of Camden had a pathetic voter turnout of 7%.  And we have heard all the reasons for why this happened.  But frankly these are all excuses and we are standing here today to ask all of you to stand up and draw the line in the sand for the youth whose votes are not counted. 

Our elected officials are working because you put them there.  You are making their jobs too easy, they count on you not to vote, they count on you not to talk to them, not to organize your community, and not to stand together for what you believe.  Well that time has come to an end, and we are going to take this message to the neighborhoods leading up to November 3rd to make sure every registered voter in the City of Camden knows that if they don't vote that you are letting us down.

The decisions made in this building behind us impact everyone young and old in Camden, we can not be bystanders anymore. In school we learn about American Democracy, about the many people who fought and died so that future generations would have the freedom to vote.  Well we now want the voters of this city to prove it.  Prove that voting matters; prove to us, the future leaders that what we learned in school is still true. 

Starting today, we are going to take this message to the streets. First this Sunday, at some of our faith services youth will be giving personal testimony and urging their fellow church members to remember to vote. 

Second on Monday, November 2nd several of our local youth groups associated with CCOP will be stationed at key intersections throughout the city to remind passers by to vote. This is not a political stunt.  We are getting involved with an election the only way we can.  When we are old enough to vote, we will do so, but until then you are the voters and it is your job.  Don't let us down!