Youth organizers from the Hyde Square Task Force were out in force at local polling places Tuesday finishing up their “Vote for Me” voter registration and education campaign.
While, as a nonprofit, HSTF is barred from supporting office seekers, youth organizers ran an enthusiastic campaign opposing Question 1, which would have repealed the state income tax. The question ultimately failed statewide.
Youths stood at eight polling places around the neighborhood, adult volunteers were at three more during the evening hours, and an eight line phone bank was running at the HSTF offices.
Ada Baez, 16; Yadelya Acevedo, 15; and Samantha Brea, 15, were at the Curley School from 4 to 8 p.m. encouraging voters to vote “no” on the question.
In a subtle piece of street theater, Baez had taken off her shoes.
She said that when people asked her why she was shoeless, she would tell them that, since Question 1 had passed, she “needed money for other things.”
Since municipal budgets had been slashed and the streets were not being cleaned, she said, she had stepped on a piece of glass and cut her foot. Since the state healthcare budget had been cut, she had no health insurance and the cut had gotten infected.
“Vote no on Question 1,” she said.
A passing voter described the trio as “the three Graces.”
“We are also [sometimes] the three Furies,” Brea said.
A number of HSTF youth organizers the Gazette spoke to said concerns about potential cuts to education spending had led them to focus energy on Question 1.
HSTF staffer Mark Pedulla said he was a little jealous of the experience the youths were getting. “I pulled numbers in a polling location for the first time when I was 27,” he said. “A lot of our youths are getting that experience for the first time at 15, 16 and 17. They are learning how to run a campaign, target voters and track numbers over time. Today was the culmination. They got to stay in the polls as the ballots were counted. It was an incredible experience to be there with them.”