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A new, nonpartisan initiative launched by the nonprofit Vote.org seeks to channel the power of art to encourage voter participation. Along with links to register to vote, check absentee status, and set voting reminders, among other crucial resources, the “Plan Your Vote” website offers a digital library of voting advocacy visuals that are free for anyone to download and circulate. The images are based on original works created by more than 60 contemporary artists, including Kamrooz Aram, Sanford Biggers, Leidy Churchman, Guerrilla Girls, Jenny Holzer, Elka Krajewska, Caitlin Keogh, Julie Mehretu, Kambui Olujimi, and Wangechi Mutu.
Vote.org, a national organization committed to increasing voter turnout, says the project was born out of a “need for a strong visual vocabulary.”
“Voters this year face numerous barriers to participation, and widespread misinformation,” said the organization’s executive director, Christine Messineo, in a statement. “Communicating critical information about how to register to vote has become increasingly difficult, buried in advertising and electioneering and everything else online.”
Indeed, the 2020 election may go down in history as one of the nation’s most fraught, as voter suppression and the threat of foreign interference collide with the challenges of getting to the ballots during a global pandemic and targeted attacks on mail-in voting. These are compounded by a more longstanding issue: voter non-participation. According to the Knight Foundation, nearly 100 million eligible voters in the US did not cast a ballot for president in 2016 — representing 43% of the eligible voting-age population.
Vote.org CEO Andrea Hailey believes that art may hold the key to educating and mobilizing citizens across the nation to exercise their right to vote.
“It is an honor to be working with an amazingly talented group of artists, as well as museums, arts organizations and institutional nonprofits, to help tell the story of what it means to vote, and why it is so important to have your voice heard,” Hailey said. “If we lower the barriers to political engagement and turn more people out to vote, together, we can paint a more representative democracy.”
“Plan Your Vote” is supported by an alliance of museums and arts nonprofits that are posting campaign images on their social media and promoting the initiative in their newsletters, as well as including an active voter engagement “sticker” on their websites. So far, 56 institutions have become alliance members, including MoMA PS1, the Brooklyn Museum, the Guggenheim, ICA Boston, and MIT List Visual Arts Center.