Keeping up with the latest Kardashian gossip and knowing the difference between the names on your ballot aren’t mutually exclusive.
At least not for Ashley Spillane, the president of Rock the Vote, a national nonprofit that has organized get-out-the-vote efforts for more than two decades, including a national voter registration day on Tuesday.
“I think the importance is that there are millions and millions of Americans paying attention to what the Kardashians are doing and it’s actually truly OK to be interested in popular culture and politics at the same time,” Spillane said. “Everyone cares about issues.”
Caring isn’t always enough, though, which is where Rock the Vote tries to fill a void.
“If you want to have a voice in this country, it is important to participate. Period,” Spillane said. “If you are not voting [then] you have no voice in the selection process, [and] you have no right to complain. And, I think more importantly, you get this self-perpetuating cycle of politicians not paying attention.”
All over the country on Tuesday, organizers will be working to register young people so they can be involved. They’re hosting a music festival in North Carolina, while District residents can get involved by signing up to get action alerts from a war room organizers have set up.
Part of that outreach is seeing how young people use technology for things such as making sure that Khloe Kardashian knows what day it is and being politically engaged.
In recent years, Rock the Vote offices — which Spillane said are composed predominantly of millennials (including herself) — have been using social media and online outreach to get to their peers.
“It is really important that we’re engaging platforms to meet young people where they are, which is online,” Spillane said.
And that includes the obvious approaches of Facebook and Twitter, and other platforms such as Tumblr, Wordpress and Vine.
While Rock the Vote embraces social media, Spillane said one thing the group really wants to do is expand the number of states that allow online voter registration and same-day registration. Twenty states have online registration options, and 10 states (plus D.C.) have same day registration. Most states require "antiquated" paper registration, which, according to Spillane, just doesn’t click with a generation that may prefer texting or emailing to licking an envelope.
“If you ask a bunch of millennials where to get a stamp, you have a hard time getting an answer,” Spillane said. “We are advocating for moving the voter registration process online, making it less complicated and less difficult for young people to get involved.”
She estimated that more than 600 campuses will have some sort of event on Tuesday to try and make sure that young people don’t miss out on the opportunity to vote. In 2008, she said, 6 million people who wanted to vote didn’t because they weren’t sure how to vote or missed the deadline to register.
“There are 86 million millennials in the country,” Spillane said. “I’d like to register them all.”
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