I VOTE for Women
In 2008, over 51% of 18 to 29-year-olds voted in the US presidential elections. While numbers are usually down across the board during midterms, in 2010, youth voter turnout dropped to 24%.
To counter that and get young people back to the voting booth, a pending nonprofit called I VOTE has launched an issues-based media campaign to demonstrate that people can affect change on the issues they care about. It really comes down to voting.
The appeal here is different by a level of degree than traditional get out the vote campaigns. Instead of appealing to a sense of “civic duty,” I VOTE is attempting to engage people on issues of importance as a gateway to further political involvement and actual voting. Call it an appeal to enlightened self interest: vote because you give a damn.
The video above focuses on women’s health and was directed by Jessica Sanders, an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker.
In the Q&A below, I VOTE founder Haroon “Boon” Saleem talks about his vision for this election season and beyond. — Michael
FJP: What is I VOTE and what is it trying to accomplish?
Boon Saleem: I VOTE is a pending non-profit organization that will produce, acquire and disseminate high-quality, youth-issue based viral campaigns for the 2012 election cycle and beyond.
Specifically, the “I VOTE” campaign will highlight issues that will spur 18-35 year olds to the polls in November — civil rights, jobs, the environment, women’s self-determination, wealth inequality, education, healthcare, and above all, holding government accountable for protecting our future. The multi-platform campaign will utilize social networking, online video spots, organizational partnerships, and cultural creation to funnel the youth into America’s tried and true tool for change: the vote.
FJP: How is it different than other get out the vote campaigns?
Boon: What differentiates I VOTE from current run-of-the-mill campaigns is the quality of the content. The co-creators of I VOTE have worked at the juncture of entertainment and activism and have a particularized knowledge of youth oriented engagement (concerts, comedy shows, debate watch parties, art gallery auctions). There is no group of individuals with a stronger track record of outreach, engagement and activation of 18-35 demographic. Traditional campaigns/politicos simply do not speak in the parlance of the youth. We do.
FJP: Is it partisan?
Boon:I VOTE is proudly non-partisan. We are guided not by political ideology but by American Optimism.
FJP: What is its media strategy and how does reflect I VOTE’S mission?
Boon: The lynchpin of I VOTE is a digital and mobile strategy focused on communicating with the 18-35 target demo through viral videos/PSAs and interactive social media. We will then leverage technology to share the content and promote a two-way dialogue with young voters, inviting them to add their story to the movement using video, photos, blog posts, and tweets.
We will establish this dialogue by tapping into an extensive nationwide network of A-List creatives to produce fresh, original content that resonates with younger voters. Filmmakers, actors, photographers, and musicians, both established and cutting edge, will lend their talents to give voice to the issues facing the youth in 2012.
FJP: What do you hope to accomplish by the 2012 elections, and then what do you want to accomplish afterwards?
Boon: We aim to engage, unify, and motivate the youth aged 18-35 to turn out in November at the same level they did in 2008. We know this will not be achieved by brow-beating them over civic duty - it will only be accomplished by building a cultural groundswell that makes them want to vote.
Moving beyond Election Day, I VOTE as an organization will sustain robust levels of youth political engagement. By continuing to marry fresh creative content with innovative outreach to like-minded individuals, organizations & NGO’s, I VOTE will evolve to fit the issue-based needs of the day, ensuring that the youth culture develops into a dependable activist force — one that participates in the political process every single day instead of every four years.
BONUS: Aren’t registered? You can do so quickly via TurboVote, a nonprofit that uses technology to increase civic engagement.