Election Results & the Youth Vote: Teacher Partners with Errol Morris and Our Time to Rally Young Voters
Are you between the ages of 18 and 30? Look at the person beside you. Odds are, one of you are going to decide not to vote in the upcoming presidential election. That is because only around 51% of young people vote these days, a number that has steadily declined in the past few decades. For whatever reason, more than half of young people just don’t choose to vote, but a new video by filmmaker Errol Morris could change all that, and the election results could turn out very differently from what the polls say as a consequence.
Actually, it isn’t just young people that choose not to vote. Half of all Americans don’t vote, and while the reasons vary, the fact remains that voter apathy is at an all time high. That’s why teacher and journalist Jessica Lander partnered with Morris, director of the Academy Award-winning film The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara and Our Time, an organization dedicated to exposing young people to politics and educating them on voting. “We thought the best possible way to reach my generation,” Lander, 24, said in an interview with Gather News, “would be to do a campaign through social media.” Lander and other organizers started the I Can, I Will campaign wondering, “could we create a Facebook pledge campaign with a video, a phenomenal video,” the goal obviously being to start a conversation with young people about voting.
The result, 50-some interviews later, is Morris’ video “11 Excellent Reasons Not to Vote.” At first glance, the video seems quirky, entertaining and a far cry from any of the other PSA’s that are running currently to encourage young people to vote. But, says Lander, that’s the point. “There are tons of videos that tell people to go out and vote. There are tons of videos by celebrities,” Lander said. “And you still have this problem with 51% of our generation voting.” She explains that the video was purposely designed to make people think differently about voting. “We wanted to have people watch it and stop, and sort of think freshly about what it means to vote.”
The video, which is embedded below, certainly does stand out from the crowded market of videos currently aimed at voters. It lightheartedly goes through a list of reasons why young people might or might not vote, including voting opposite of someone they dislike in order to cancel their vote, and explores the possibilities of getting into a traffic collision or meeting the man or woman of your dreams on your way to the voting booth.
So, what does Lander hope to achieve with the video? It seems to contain all the necessary ingredients to go viral, and organizers hope it does, because not only are officials launching campaigns to warn people that voter fraud is a crime, there are organizations out there that are actually discouraging people from voting at all. “If we can spread this campaign across the country I truly believe our generation will surprise everyone and come out to the polls in force.” Lander said. If the campaign truly does go viral, and even 52% of young people voted this year instead of 51%, the election results could be very different from what is expected.
So far, the campaign has received more than 35,000 pledges. To pledge or find out more about the I Can, I Will Campaign, visit the Our Time website.
Gabriel Legend covers current events for Gather News, and writes horror fiction as well. He is participating in this year’s National Novel Writing Month Challenge. You can follow him on Twitter (@GabeLegend).