Civic Engagement and the First-time Voter part 1- 4:46
with David Thornburgh of the Committee of Seventy
Posted Jul 21, 2017
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The population of young, eligible voters outnumbers the population of senior voters, according to US News and World Report. And while young people have the power to shape election, first-time voters have a notoriously low turnout on Election Day. The discussion continues in part 2 of Civic Engagement and the First-time Voter.
A discussion with David Thornburgh, President and CEO of the Committee of Seventy.
Interview recorded June 14, 2017.
Traynham: Young Americans represent a major political force, with 49 million eligible voters under the age of 30. However, according to Tufts University, less than half of young voters turned out for the 2016 presidential election. Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Robert Traynham, and joining me is David Thornburgh. He's the President and C.E.O. of the Committee of Seventy in Philadelphia. David, welcome to the program.
Thornburgh: Thank you, Robert.
Traynham: So, what I just mentioned a few moments ago is a little startling. Why is it that young people, particularly under the age of 30, come out in low numbers to vote
Thornburgh: Yeah, well, let me make the news even a little grimmer before we get to the solution. We're, you know, a longstanding civic organization based in Philadelphia. We care a lot about turnout for local elections for mayor and district attorney and so forth and so on, and the numbers for young turnout get even grimmer. So we have our work cut out for us. It's a huge issue for us. We've been around for a hundred years, and we just fundamentally believe that more people better informed make democracy work. That's the play. When you look at young voters, I think that there are really three things going on. One is we have to make it easier to vote. The idea of a letter with a stamp that you mail in to get an absentee ballot is, you know... circa 1950.
Thornburgh: Yeah. Kids don't know what a stamp is. The second thing is you have to reinforce the sense that it counts, that it matters, that when you vote for a district attorney, you're doing something about, you know, safety. When you vote for a school-board member, you're doing something about your schools. The third thing is that you've got to try to rebuild the culture of voting. You know those little "I voted" stickers That's an important step forward, but what you really want is people to think of themselves as voters -- young people to say, "That's part of who I am. It's cultural. It's my community. It's my church. It's just who I am." So that's what's led us down a path to something I want to share with you.
Traynham: David, you mentioned a few moments ago that perhaps maybe people do not feel connected to city services, if you will. In many ways, perhaps, maybe they're not inspired. Could it also be that, you know, "Look, I'm working two jobs. I don't have a car. Voting is just not very convenient for me." What do you think or what recommendations do you have to inspire people to get out and vote
Thornburgh: Yeah. Well, as I said, part of it is literally knocking down the little hurdles that stand in your way, because people are busy, and people do have children and family and jobs and so forth and so on. So, you know, we've always been in favor of things like early voting or mail voting or making absentee ballots easier, that remove some of those barriers. But as I said, the hardest nut to crack but maybe the most important is creating this culture of voting. And that's what led us this summer, during the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia... ...to sponsor and underwrite a play that was called "Voices of Voting," created by a fabulously talented guy named David Bradley, that tries to connect young voters, high-school-age voters, proto-voters, with the struggle to achieve the right to vote in this country, which, as you know, is very real and significant and people lost their lives, but it's ancient history to folks. So it was a huge success, just an incredible production. We had 2,000 kids come through that.
The Asian American Pacific Islander community makes up six percent of the U.S. population, but is growing more than four times as rapidly as the total U.S. population. Asians are the largest group of immigrants to enter the U.S. as immigrants. A conversation with Janelle Wong, Senior Researcher at AAPI Data about the fastest-growing but one of the understudied racial groups in the United States.
The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will be hosted this summer in Seattle, with more than 4,000 athletes and coaches representing 50 states and the District of Columbia. Jason Schriml of the Special Olympics USA Games discussed the impact the games and this organization that highlights athletes with intellectual disabilities through highly competitive sports, uplifting experiences, and demonstrating inclusion for all.
Preparations are underway for the 2020 United States Census. A fair and accurate count of all communities is of major importance, as data gathered is used to determine federal funding, congressional representation and more. For some populations, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the process can be of concern due to immigration status, language barriers and fear of providing personal information. John Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC joins Robert Traynham to discuss the importance of an accurate count, especially for the AAPI population in America.
Filipino Americans make up the third largest subgroup of Asian Americans today, with millennials comprising nearly a quarter of this population. And while there about 4 million Filipino and Filipino Americans living in the U.S today, this population is underrepresented in political and leadership roles. Brendan Flores, National Chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations joins Robert Traynam to discuss the welfare and well-being of Filipino Americans and efforts to strengthen the personal and professional development of young Filipino Americans.
According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Asian population increased 72 percent between 2000 and 2015, resulting in the fastest growth rate of any major racial or ethnic group. And as this population continues to grow, there remains a lack of involvement in politics and corporate leadership positions. Kendall Kosai, Deputy Director at OCA National discussed programs designed to help high school students explore their identity, and encourage them to become future community leaders.
Korean Americans, like many other Asian Americans, are recent immigrants to the United States, emigrating in large numbers after 1965. As first and second generation Americans, many still have close ties with their homeland, where family and friends still reside. A discussion with Sam Yoon, Executive Director of the Council of Korean Americans on the Korean American community, including their ties to both North and South Korea.
The population of young, eligible voters outnumbers the population of senior voters, according to US News and World Report. And while young people have the power to shape election, first-time voters have a notoriously low turnout on Election Day.
Part two of this discussion with David Thornburgh, President and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, focuses on the inspiration for Voices of Voting efforts to expand the program.
Interview recorded June 14, 2017.
"Kansas state legislators put their ideologies to the side and worked together to stabilize the Kansas Budget. Kansas State Senator Jim Denning, Majority Leader of the Kansas State Senate discusses the successful bipartisan effort.
Interview recorded November 30, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: With the state economy in the red, Kansas lawmakers from opposing parties united to reverse the decline. An immediate benefit -- schools across the state received $300 million in new funding. Hello, everyone, and welcome to ""Comcast Newsmakers."" I'm Robert Traynham, and joining me is Senator Jim Denning. He's the majority leader of the Kansas State Senate, and one of 2017 Governing magazine Public Officials of the Year. Senator Denning, welcome to the program.
Denning: Yeah, thank you for having me.
Traynham: So it's widely known that your home state went through a steep decline in revenue. I think a lot of folks around the country were saying ""How are they gonna get out of this "" And you clearly, along with your Democratic colleagues and the Governor, figured out a solution. Tell us about it.
Denning: Sure, we had cut taxes significantly starting in calendar year '13, and we had two provisions in our tax policy. One was a pass-through where small businesses and sole proprietorships would not pay any tax at all on their non-wage income, and that ended up being a loophole that we ended up closing. And the other thing that we had in the policy was that it was marching to zero, that is to say marching down to zero tax, and it was just a statutory march. It wasn't based on any economic activity. And by the second year of the tax cut, we had realized that we had gone too deep, that we needed to reverse a bit of that tax cut to stabilize the budget. We were starting to get to the point where we couldn't fund our core services like schools, mental health, you know, the...
Traynham: The basic necessities, if you will
Denning: Yeah, just the basic -- correct.
Traynham: Senator, let's talk for a few moments about the rainy day fund and that concept. I'm from Pennsylvania, and I know when I was in college and also in high school, there was the state legislature, and I was saying, "Listen, happy days are here again, and this is great from a revenue standpoint, but let's plan as though that the happy days will end at some point, and so let's have a savings account, if you will." And as I understand it, your doing something very similar.
Denning: Yes, we're looking at a rainy day fund next year, and you say, you know, the economy, it ebbs and flows. Right now it's flowing. We're having 3% GDP growth, and we're certainly seeing that at the state level, but we know that a recession is inevitable. We just came through the 2002 recession, and then the deep recession of 2008 and 2009, so we know that the economy will once again contract, and we would like to have a rainy day fund built up so that we'd have a little bit of a cushion so we can continue to fund those core services without taking on additional debt or just simply cutting.
2018 marked a major milestone for America’s Asian American Pacific Islander population, with the appointment of the nation’s first Sikh-American Attorney General in New Jersey. Navdeep Singh, Policy Director of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association discusses this milestone, as well as efforts underway to help bridge language barriers in the courtroom.
In 2016, there were approximately 27.3 million eligible Latino voters. However, less than half exercised their right to vote in the 2016 Presidential election.
Abigail Golden-Vazquez, Executive Director of the Latinos and Society Program at the Aspen Institute discusses the issues and efforts to boost Latino civic participation. This discussion continues in part 2 of Latinos and Civic Participation.
Interview recorded Sept 6, 2017.