October 28, 2020

The following is a message from Dr. Marc Spencer, Summer Search CEO, featuring a Q&A from two Summer Search participants who are voting for the first time.

The noise and tension around the upcoming election can feel overwhelming, especially in light of the difficult moment we are in. I’m writing this as yet another death has occurred in the Black community — Walter Wallace, Jr. in Philadelphia — by police use of excessive force.

Amidst the global pandemic of COVID-19, the uprisings against police violence, the climate crisis, and an economic crisis, we are facing decisions that will impact us, and the young people we partner with, for years to come.

As I know this community is aware of, voting — for president, for local councilperson, for judges, and every elected position and proposition in between — is the cornerstone of a healthy democracy. It’s a moment where each of us can lift our voices and our power.

Voter ID resource from When We All Vote and Vote Riders. See more resources at the bottom of this story.

At Summer Search, our mission is to empower our students to lift their voices — to understand their power in charting a path toward their dreams and an equitable future. Summer Searchers want to improve the world for themselves and their communities and many will show up to the polls this election and vote for the world they want to see.

With that being said, I’m honored to share the voices of two Summer Searchers who are exercising their power as first-time voters.

Jordan C. is a senior at KIPP Dubois Collegiate Academy in Philadelphia. Mitzaly M., also a Philly Summer Searcher, is a first-year college student attending West Chester University. These two young voters answered a few questions on what it means to them to participate in their first election.

Jordan (top) during a Summer Search Philadelphia fitness event (in preparation for his first summer experience). Mitzaly (bottom, on the right) on an international service program with Global Glimpse.

Question: How does it feel voting for the first time? 

Mitzaly: “I’m really excited about using my voice. It feels really important to me. Being a new college student and learning about systems and policies in my Social Work classes pushes me to think critically about how I use my vote and voice. It feels empowering.”

Jordan: “Feels like I’m doing something that is different and matters. Voting shapes how the country is being led and how decisions are made for law and economics. It feels very important for people who vote for the first time.”

Q: How are you submitting your ballot?

Mitzaly: “I’m voting in person because I want to see how it all works. I plan to get there early and bring lots of snacks.”

Jordan: “I wanted to do mail-in, but I’m concerned about if it will be counted, lost, or some other variable. Now I will be voting in person. It feels more accomplished in person.”

Q: Why is voting important to you in this election? 

Mitzaly: “We’re in crazy times right now and I want to see a different future.”

Jordan: “Voting decides who represents the country. Who represents the law and how your state functions. It helps people get involved in something that impacts the country more than they think.

“I hope there’s better decision making when it comes to leadership because we’re in a pandemic. If this situation ever arises again, I want more urgency and consideration for all people who are impacted in the crisis. I want more stabilization to put us in position to prosper, have equality, and less division. We are all in this together.”

Regardless of the outcome of this election, Summer Search will be there for our students and families – to give them hope, inspiration, places to work through their feelings and information to support them to take action it whatever ways are meaningful to them.

Join these first-time voters and the Summer Search community in making your voice heard on November 3rd!

Voting Resources

Vote411 — Find what’s on your ballot and resources to report election day problems.

ACLU: Know Your Voting Rights — Select your state to learn how to vote by mail, early in-person, or in-person on election day.

Voting Information Center on Facebook — Plan your vote.

When We All Vote — Search through helpful voter resources. Cover photo courtesy of When We All Vote.

Vote With Love – Listen to theme song of the Vote With Love campaign, exploring the state of the world and reminding us that with love, all things are possible.

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