A political action organization is working to enlist a large group of potential voters in Arizona by helping sign up thousands of young adults to vote in time for the Aug. 28 primary and November general elections.

About 30 employees and volunteers of NextGen Arizona were at the University of Arizona this week to get people to vote regardless of their political preferences. Over a three-day stretch, 750 people filled out Arizona voting registration forms as students made their way back to campus for the fall semester, which begins Monday.

NextGen Arizona is one of the 11 state operations of NextGen America, a nonprofit political action organization started in 2013 by California billionaire Tom Steyer, who made news last year with an advertising campaign to impeach President Trump. Steyer has pledged to use millions of his dollars to mobilize young people to vote this year.

Initially, the group’s focus was on climate change. Steyer is attempting to get a renewable energy initiative on the November ballot in Arizona.

NextGen America’s related super PAC primarily supports Democratic candidates, according to the factcheck.org website. The super PAC has already spent millions on 2018 elections.

On Wednesday, NextGen Arizona was assisting potential voters with voter registration forms and handing out survey cards to gain information about the issues affecting young people.

“It might be the difference in an election these few votes, so we understand the power of these youth votes and these students registering,” said Maria Eller, 24, an organizer and recent Arizona State University graduate. “The other part of our job is letting them know.”

Possible rejection from students is one thing staff members worked through as they continue their efforts to add to the more than 8,000 voters who have already signed up since 2017.

The group’s target is young adults between the ages of 18-35. The mission is to help young adults make their voices heard by voting for candidates who will address issues that affect them.

Eller said it’s the peer-to-peer conversations that intrigue young people.

“Not only are we making it easy for them to participate through voting registration, in fact, it does lead to the conversation like, ‘What’s NextGen? How do I join?’ because they understand the impact of that,” Eller said.

NextGen employees and volunteers in Arizona have already knocked on around 30,000 doors in Arizona since 2017, according to Jalakoi Solomon, 28, who is the Arizona state director for NextGen America.

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“It’s been massive, in just as short few months we now have close to 60 employees,” Solomon said. “We’ve registered over 9,000 students, we’ve collected thousands of survey cards, so we’re asking young people what issues they care about and then being able to organize around the issues they want to fight for.”

Eller said the organization gives the chance for young adults to have their own input and to join a common cause.

“A movement requires people, so there’s a space in our organization and in our movement for everyone to join us,” she said.

This week, NextGen was working at 23 college campuses in Arizona, 20 being community colleges.

Later this month, NextGen Arizona will also hold its “Day of Action” at the three major Arizona universities, including a “Wet ’n’ Woke” back-to-school pool party for UA freshmen.

“If we all go register to vote, if we all actually turned out to vote, we would be the difference in a host of elections up and down the ticket,” Solomon said. “So that’s really what we’re fighting for is for young people to understand that they have power, that they have a voice, and then to actually act on that.”

Contact Star reporter Shaq Davis at 573-4218 or sdavis@tucson.com.


Shaq is a public safety reporter and the Road Runner columnist, keeping readers up to date on transportation news. In 2017, he started as an apprentice and later worked part-time until graduating from the UA and being offered a full-time position in 2018.