NO VOTE IS A VOTE wrote -
Did you know that Utah has some of the lowest voter turnout in the entire nation? In 2014, less than 29% of Utahns showed up to vote, and the picture gets even worse when you look more closely: For example, only 38% of Utahns of color were registered to vote in 2014. Perhaps most alarming is the low voter turnout amongst millennials (those aged 18-29, who now represent the single largest generation group in U.S. history). Only 8% of millennials voted in 2014. Just think about that – these are the individuals who can shape the direction of our country for the next 50 years, and right now they are more likely to smoke than to vote--even in Utah. What on earth is happening?! In less than four months, we will have one of the most important elections in a generation, and such low rates of voter turnout and registration are national emergencies. We cannot think of a single issue that is more important to the future of our country, and this is why we are launching Voterise (pronounced like a verb because it is a verb), a new nonpartisan nonprofit based here in Utah dedicated to expanding and diversifying the electorate. ABOUT THE HISTORY OF VOTERISE AND OUR HIGHLY QUALIFIED TEAM Elsa and Dick Gary, Utah residents and political activists, had been running the top advertising agency in the music industry, and they are experts when it comes to targeting and messaging millennials. They wanted to turn their skills toward the crisis in voter registration and turnout in Utah, with an eye toward building and sustaining a nationwide culture of voter involvement, especially among millennials. Toward this end, they provided a modest amount of seed funding to launch Voterise, and they have hired Judi Hilman as its first Executive Director. Voterise has the potential to turn the tide of low voter involvement in Utah and across the country, but we need your financial support to achieve this vision. Help us reach our Crowdrise goal of $50,000. WHAT VOTERISE PLANS TO DO Voter registration is obviously an immediate objective over the next four months, and we have already begun to use data-driven strategies to identify eligible but unregistered voters and to walk them through the registration process (through our fast and easy online platform in conjunction with Rock the Vote). Yet our objectives go broader and deeper than simple voter registration. In order to truly expand and diversify the electorate, we need a long-term strategy for eliminating the three-pronged plight of low voter registration, low voter turnout, and low voter engagement. Toward this end, we have already done extensive research on the reasons why so few millennials vote. One key reason is skepticism about the impact of their votes—some of which is valid, according to economist Joseph Stiglitz. Young people who face unprecedented job insecurity, looming student debt, and dim prospects for home ownership may be justifiably doubtful that voting has any effect on the issues they care about. We need to convince them that their votes and voices DO matter, and to do this we need to reach millennials at the right time, in the right format, and about the right issues. Today’s 20-year olds still attend the occasional rally or protest, but they are more likely to discover a passion for civic dialogue through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube. Voterise plans to use these tools – in concert with robust field strategies such as peer-to-peer campaigns, live events, and workplace voter registration – to increase the size, diversity, and enthusiasm of the U.S. electorate. Toward this end, civic education is a crucial part of our strategy. We can’t afford to wait until citizens turn 18 to educate them about the critical importance of voting. To truly create a culture of passionate and lifelong voter involvement, we need to revamp civic education so that students fully understand the importance of voting. If Voterise is successful, the current crop of high school seniors will be lining up to register when they turn 18, and will find it unimaginable that anyone would fail to take advantage of their opportunity to raise their voice and shape their nation’s future. Our comprehensive digital and field strategies will be designed and directed by the one-and-only Sarah Baytop Scott, founder and leader of the Utahns for Bernie campaign. I certainly don’t need to tell you that the Sanders campaign mastered the art of awakening civic enthusiasm among millennials, upending the traditional political rulebook. This is precisely the sort of creative, forward-thinking activism that we need to electrify voter enthusiasm and involvement in Utah and nationwide, and we are thrilled to have Sarah on our team. This is just the beginning, and we need your support to “scale up” and meet our goals. During the past year, citizens from all political stripes (and the leaders of national parties, in the U.K. as well as the US) have learned that individual votes matter. The decisions that will direct our nation’s future are being made one person at a time, by men and women punching cards, touching screens, pulling levers, and licking the envelopes of mail-in ballots. To convince current and future U.S. voters of the value of these actions, we need your help. No matter what political issue is most dear to you, an expanded, diversified, and enthusiastic electorate is crucial to its future. Please contribute to our launch campaign and help us to transform the culture of voting in the U.S., not only over the next four months but for generations to come. For those who are particularly fired up, and would like to play a greater role, we are more than happy to speak with you personally about additional opportunities, such as Voterise Ventures, an innovative venture philanthropy fund that we have established to raise matching funds for upcoming grant opportunities. LET'S DO THIS!