There Is One Secret Thing Every American Agrees On
Everyone on the #VoteTogether team has one thing in common. Despite coming from different background and industries, with different passions—one of us is even a pescatarian—there is one special thing that we all share. We love to party.
We love parties more than the food, music, and fun they included. We love parties because they are about a community celebrating; they are about being done with work and spending time with family or with friends.
As members of the #VoteTogether team, Olivia and I strive towards the same mission—to change the culture of voting to make it a fun, important, and celebratory occasion in communities across the nation. Our day-to-day lives, though, look very different. At first glance, they may even seem diametrically opposite of each other.
But we have a little secret that we want to share with you. No matter how different we are from one another or where we came from, the act of celebrating ties us together.
The difference in our roles and the way we work together is symbolic of #VoteTogether’s fundamental character—taking the pain and grievance and polarization out of voting to instead bringing all people together under the guise of celebration.
I, Olivia, have always worked at mission-driven, non-profit, do-gooder organizations, using my degree in economic and political development. And I remember the first time I realized why voting is so important.
I was working with a microfinance bank in Senegal, and I, lazily, stopped taking my malarone—a medicine that prevents a person from contracting malaria. Surprisingly, somehow, I found myself very sick with—you guessed it—malaria. For my Senegalese colleagues, this was normal. It meant missing meetings and classes, sitting at home nauseous with a fever for a few days. For me, it was infuriating. I couldn’t help but feel like my peers and coworkers and neighbors had gotten used to a system that didn’t serve them.
For some, it may seem like a big leap that I went from working in international development abroad to throwing parties across America around election season. But the former forced me to admit how important it is to get out and vote. I’m enthralled, inspired, and moved by what these parties do, and do effectively—they get people to their polling places.
I love #VoteTogether’s mission: “throw a GOOD party.” Food, sweets, treats, good music, good people, laughter, ease, community, a feeling of belonging, a feeling of ownership. The secret is linking all these happy experiences with an activity that people never think of as easy or fun—voting.
This year, we are partnering with 200 grassroots, bootstrapped organizations around the country that are yearning to put on a party for their neighbors, peers, kin, and colleagues. I get to talk to hundreds of Americans every day that are ready to electrify this country with turnout by turning up.
My 200 partners are in on the secret. They know that getting their neighbors—who have never voted, who don’t think their vote counts, who have never seen their parents or grandparents vote—to a polling location might be the the biggest obstacle standing in the way of those neighbors casting their ballots. Maybe if we get those neighbors to a party outside the polling place, with an ice cream cone in their hand after taking a silly turn around the dance floor, it won’t feel so scary or overwhelming to push open that door that says Vote Here, Vote Aquí. It’ll just feel like part of the party.
As for me, Jess, Creative Alliance Manager—my role within #VoteTogether is to harness awareness opportunities through entertainment and media partnerships. As Olivia says, I “make it pop.” While Olivia has been identifying and supporting partners on the ground all year, my work is mostly reserved for the few months leading up to the elections—when people who are sometimes thinking about the elections, maybe even for the first time, realize it’s right around the corner and wonder what they can do. While they may not have been in on the secret for as long as Olivia’s partners, it’s my job to make sure that when they hear the whispers, there’s a way in for them. Through the Creative Alliance, my goal is to leverage its membership base to recruit everyday citizens to envision and host their own parties—through content partnerships, digital marketing, events, influencers, and more. No matter the level of familiarity or capability, everyone is invited to participate.
We’ve seen more people eager to activate around this year’s midterms than ever before. People who had previously ignored midterm elections because they didn’t have the time or the motivation, or didn’t think it really affected them, are ignited to use their voices this year. Which is great news to the #VoteTogether team, because for us, it’s not about politics, it’s about culture.
My partners have long been in the business of expressing themselves—they are artists, creators, designers, and influencers—and they are eager to show their fans and followers that one of the most important means of self expression is voting. We believe that using your voice and your vote is a civic duty that every person should celebrate. And we know nothing brings people together like a good celebration.
At a time when the dialogue in our country can seem painfully polarizing, the fundamental action behind #VoteTogether can be refreshing, even neutralizing. Voting, much like community, should be important, prioritized, and most of all celebrated—with no barrier to entry. No matter who or what you’re voting for, or how long you’ve been in on the secret, #VoteTogether is bringing everyone together this election season in a celebration all across America.
So join us, get in on the secret, and bring your friends in, too. Host your own #VoteTogether party this election season.