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Progressive Group Hopes for Youthful AZ Political Shift in 2018

A recent study from Harvardís Institute of Politics shows 37 percent of voters under age 30 said they will "definitely be voting" in 2018 midterm elections, up from 23 percent who made that claim in 2014. (JR Casey/Twenty20)
A recent study from Harvardís Institute of Politics shows 37 percent of voters under age 30 said they will "definitely be voting" in 2018 midterm elections, up from 23 percent who made that claim in 2014. (JR Casey/Twenty20)
April 30, 2018

PHOENIX – As 2018 midterm elections draw nearer, progressive groups are taking a closer look at Arizona for potential wins in congressional and state races.

The group NextGen is focusing its energy on 10 states it says will be key in 2018 - and Arizona is one of them. Even though it has been a longtime conservative stronghold, Arizona's population is becoming more racially diverse and its urban centers are growing.

Jalakoi Solomon, the Arizona state youth director for NextGen, thinks that will shift politics in the state.

"Demographics are changing here at such a rate that progress will be able to be made if everyone can have a voice," she says.

She says younger voters could lead the way. NextGen hopes to build on the momentum of the "March for Our Lives" and other recent youth-led political movements to bring more young people to the polls this year.

According to a Tufts University study, just 17 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds turned out to vote for the last midterm elections in 2014 - a record low.

NextGen has a campaign to mail voter registration packets to newly eligible voters on their 18th birthday. The group also has representatives working on college campuses in its 10 targeted states. Solomon says she's optimistic that Arizona's newest voters are taking an interest in politics.

"We are every day planning new, creative ways to get students and young people on campus engaged - to get them registered to vote, to get them excited about the 2018 midterms and really, to just build their civic engagement," she adds.

Arizona's ballots this fall will include races for governor, U.S. Senate and congressional seats.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - AZ