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1 November 2002


Four days from today: Election 2002 on Tuesday, November 5th.

Four days after an amazing week:
1. The death of a really good guy, Senator Paul Wellstone from Minnesota.
2. The Chechnyan rebels' capture of hostages in a Moscow theatre.
3. The capture of the two alleged Washington snipers along with the ultimate question that is not "Why did they do it?" but why these random killings, terrible as they were, received so much publicity when people in so many of our own urban cities are everyday refraining from pumping gas, going to grocery stores or even sitting on their own porches for fear of death for themselves or their loved ones by random bullets.

This past weekend, I was at the fountain in front of Sproul Hall, on the UC Berkeley campus, waiting to meet a young activist, a new freshman at CAL, whom I will write about later. I sat reflecting how, 38 years ago at the age of 18, I stood and photographed this very scene, then filled with students founding the Free Speech Movement, making a concerted statement about some of the very same things at issue today: War. Free Speech. Civil Rights. Students' Rights. Human Rights.

Then, like now, we stood in numbers. We protested. We marched. Many were arrested. Our actions brought significant change in university policy and ultimately our nation's direction. What we could not do at the age of 18: We could not vote.

Now it's 2002 and instead of the plaza filled with numbers, it's almost empty this Sunday morning. Empty save for the day-old posters about this past Saturday's peace march in D.C. and San Francisco. Empty except for the very significant sign now placed above the portal of Sproul Hall, which reads: "Register & VOTE."

The vote is your last item in the political toolkit. A tool that I did not have in l964 when the voting age was 21. There are other tools but why not use them all?????? If you can vote this coming Tuesday, please do so. If you cannot yet vote because of ineligibility due to age, citizenship status, residency status or whatever, please do something to influence those who can.

For those new to this newsletter, I am the author of TEEN POWER POLITICS: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD, an issue-oriented book for young Americans on civic and political activism. Engagement is integral to our democracy and youth and young voters - citizens and residents already - definitely have the voice, power, intelligence, sense of justice, passion and energy to give the benefit of their participation right now. Updates and resources for change are provided on and my periodic newsletter


A. Why Vote?
B. Finding your ballot issues and polling places.
C. Get Out the Vote (GOTV).


"Disconnect" - It is said we are not voting in numbers, especially at this "midterm" election 'cause we do not understand or appreciate how those in government or how laws and/or policy affect our lives everyday. (See, the LA Times Op-ed piece "A Disconnect with Democracy", John Balzar (Wednesday, 30 October) at

So.... check out the sampling below of today's news headlines from the LA Times, NY Times and Washington Post. Almost every story concerns items on your federal, state or local ballot.

From the Los Angeles Times:
- "Heat Builds for SEC Chief"
-"GOP May Lose Its Edge in States"
- Democrats are on track to end the Republicans' eight-year dominance in governors' offices, a shift that would alter local and presidential politics.
-"Davis, Simon Hustle Votes 5 Days Ahead of Election"
- Candidates try to drum up support amid prospects for a record low turnout on Tuesday.
-"Getting Caught in a Jobless Free Fall"
- The U.S. economy is recovering, but job growth is not. Even highly skilled workers wonder if there's life after unemployment.
-"For Whales' Sake, Judge Halts Sonar"
- Navy's worldwide use of powerful new system is banned until military and environmentalists agree on where it's not likely to hurt animals.
-"Sniper Attacks Reveal New Vulnerability"
-"New Syphilis Cases Rise for First Time in 11 Years"
-"Quake Kills 13 Children in Italy"
-"Judge Is Expected to Toughen Microsoft Antitrust Settlement"

From the New York Times:
- "Qaeda Uses Teeming Karachi as New Base, Pakistanis Say"
- The story of a key planner of the Sept. 11 attacks and his chaotic arrest in Karachi, Pakistan, illustrates why it is proving so difficult to eliminate Al Qaeda.
-"From Anxiety, Fear and Hope, the Deadly Rescue in Moscow"
-"Rap World Baffled by Killing of Star With Peaceful Image"
- The murder of Jam Master Jay, a D.J. for the rap group Run-DMC.
-"United Nations: Shift Toward the U.S. Stand on Iraq Is Noted in Council"
-"Latin American Countries Skeptical of U.S. Trade Agreement"
-"An Overhaul in Building of Schools"

From the Washington Post: (And BTW, check out the Washington Post's pop-up "Election Explorer" on their home page with Senate, House and governor's contests, state news and key races. Just enter your zip code).
-"Close Election May Hinge On Voter Turnout"
-"Enron Officer Fastow Indicted"
- Obstruction added to fraud, money- laundering and conspiracy charges. -"Limit to Priest Charges OK'd"
-"Satellite TV Deal Revised, Rebuffed"
-"Washington's Impact on Wall Street"
-"Sharon Courts Israel's Right Wing"
-"U.S. Scrutinizes Yugoslavia-Iraq Ties"
-"Russia's Feminists Reach Out"
-"Judge Halts Utah Oil Project"
-"U.S. Supreme Court: 2002-2003 Term"
-"D.C. Council Criticizes Homeless Plan"
-"Class Struggle: Debating the Merits of KIPP" [(Knowledge Is Power Program) schools, an innovative group of public charter schools that have raised test scores spectacularly for low-income middle schoolers]

What is at stake in all of these headlines are the underlying issues of the ballot
a. The Environment. For many current concerns, see "Save Our Environment" at
b. The Economy, domestic and worldwide: what you buy, what you can afford to buy, where you can work and how your families can afford to pay for what you do. What about so many out of work and the shriveling of new jobs for your families.
c. Education - how good are your school facilities, your teachers, your opportunities for advanced education. How do we change the inequalities that often rift student opportunity along socio-economic and racial lines? How do we fund the good programs and clean out the ineffective ones?
d. Terrorism and the Threat of War - How do we stay safe? Must we shoulder the responsibility of overseeing another country after a war? Do we feel that needless more lives be taken right now, especially when Al Queda seems to be moving?
e. Homeland Security - What is the balance of safety against our constitutional rights of free speech, privacy and legislative protections?
f. Children's Welfare - Do children have enough care? Day Care? Food to eat? Places to clothe themselves and sleep? Education and love.
g. Health Care. Los Angeles is closing trauma centers. Where will people go for emergency care? Where is health insurance to cover devastating illness or injury or even the most basic of immunizations (although I know many of you could care less if you ever had another shot.... ).
h. Crime & Violence. What is happening with juvenile justice? How can we make our streets safe when even a one of our most noted rappers - one who promoted non-violence and non-drugs - is killed? Can we not fight violence with positive means like afterschool and recreation programs, opportunity, mentor counseling?
i. Civil Liberties. Not only in the face of homeland security, but throughout our society, racial tolerance, zero tolerance, "patriotic tolerance" (!!!!! an intolerance of criticism against our administration), and many other "fears" and prejudices are on the rise, starting to divide us from the American goal of democratic citizenry to divisive ethnic and other exclusive one-issue blocks.
j. Our democracy. Election Reform. Citizen Involvement. Checks & balances. How power shifts in Congress and state legislatures when one or another political party has more members. This congressional year, the balance is delicate... a one seat Senatorial difference is meaningful.

There is a lot more. Almost any news item provides reason to understand that the system is so intertwined that events do directly affect you. Reasons that can make you want to vote and/or help others to do so .... a small period of time expended to add your voice to making change.


The most substantial sites:

a. Project Vote-Smart The home page asks lots of questions to help you focus on what you want to know. Enter your zip code to be taken to your legislative representatives and current candidates, for federal and state offices. Link also to your state Secretary of State's offices and ultimately to a website or phone number for your local registrar for local items on the ballot and your polling place and whether there are alternative ways to vote, such as touchscreens.

b. League of Women Voters Strong election tools, with the League's traditional (strictly non-partisan) pros and cons and including: (1) Democracy Net and (2) Smart for your own personal ballot, where to vote and the info to make educated choices and, even election results!


Get your friends out. Your families. Your neighborhood grocer. Your teachers. The man in the street. Put up posters. Do precinct walking. Canvas voters for your favorite measure or candidate. Phone bank. Read about a measure and educate others. There is still time and in fact, at this very last minute many are FINALLY thinking about the election!!!! Here's some tips.

a. From a paid election consulting group site: " The Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) plan is the final and single most critical element of a successful political campaign. ...supporters must vote on Election Day or you will not win. As simple as this sounds, the GOTV plan is often overlooked until the last minute because other campaign issues are allowed to take precedence. A GOTV must be .... followed closely all the way through to Election Day".

b. The campaign toolkit from the Campaign for Young Voters (CYV). Young voters trying to get out their peers can increase voter turnout by 5% on calls and 8% on face-to-face. Remember your numbers from the last newsletter? This is significant.

c. Youth Noise's "Ten Ways to Cast Your Vote",1004,1150,00.html

d. WireTap's story, "Rap the Vote" as to why it is important to meet youth on their own terms and how this effective project to increase black youth vote is working.

e. Start a habit. Take your brother or sister or friend with you to vote.

f. Send your friends and family a voting reminder postcard from the Teen Power Politics website.

See you at the polls! Show your power.

Check out TEEN POWER POLITICS: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD and its companion website, TPP was written as a guide and a tool for activism. If ever that tool was needed, it is now.

Again, PLEASE let me know of a concern or activities to discuss here. And send this on to others. They (or you) can e-mail me to be added to (or removed from) this list. If you received this twice, please let me know as I refine my list. Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Thanks for taking the time to read this! If you received this twice, please let me know as I refine my list.

Sara Jane Boyers
Press/Twenty-First Century Book ISBN: 0-7613-1391-5, paper $9.95/ISBN
0-7613-1307-9 hardcover, $25.90
VOYA's Nonfiction Honor List, Bank Street's "Best Books of 2001",
NYPL 2001 Books for the Teen Age, Reading List for the Chicago Public Schools
-LIFE DOESN'T FRIGHTEN ME Stewart, Tabori & Chang
A Publisher's Weekly "Best Book" of the Year, NYPL "Best Books for Teens", ALA "Book for Reluctant Readers", AIGA "50 Best Designed Books"
© 2002 Sara Jane Boyers