Gun control groups actively registering teens to vote

A pair of anti-gun groups and an environmental advocacy PAC have joined forces to fund a drive to register young people in key states to vote in November.

Everytown and Giffords, teamed up with NextGen America, are pledging $1.5 million in an initiative announced Thursday with a goal of sending at least 50,000 new 18 and 19-year-old voters to the polls in the mid-term elections this fall. The groups argue that a small force of fresh, motivated voters could be key in help progressives flip Congress and take control of state legislatures.

“The politicians who have pocketed millions from the NRA and done nothing to make our schools and communities safer will now be voted out,” said former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords in a statement. “They will be voted out by the young Americans that are reminding our country to be better, to dream bigger.”

The initiative would focus on identifying and registering teen voters in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, going so far as to pre-register 16-and-17 year olds where allowed. Historically, midterm elections generate lower voter turnout than quadrennial presidential elections, with those voters who turn out skewing towards Republican candidates. In 2014, just 36 percent of eligible voters punched ballots, reportedly the lowest figures in 70 years.

While Everytown and Giffords are in the forefront of gun politics, NextGen, a nonprofit founded by billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, has focused more on subjects such as climate change, for instance opposing the Keystone XL pipeline. The group does, however, weigh in on guns occasionally. This week the group tweeted a parody ad for NRA TV saying the gun rights organization has a “blood-soaked agenda,” in turn urging  NextGen followers to “Vote like your life depends on it.”

Steyer, who recently dropped $20 million into a national ad campaign focused on impeaching President Trump, has also personally urged a change in Congress and the White House in favor of tougher gun policy.

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