Grab ‘Em by the Party: Turning Voting Spots into Places People Actually Want to Visit

There is a question that is the bane of every politician and activist: how do we get people to vote and vote without feeling apathetic?

It’s actually hard to find an answer—but it might just reside in the idea of a good ol’ party.

Here’s the thing with voting: we tout it, we flaunt it as a freedom, we’ve hailed it historically. Hell, it is so powerful of a thing that the Powers That Be kept it in a special place for far too long, perfectly out of the reach of people of color and women—until the countless men and women who were brave enough to fight for the right to vote did so.

So why, oh, why do the vast majority of those with the right to vote treat it like it’s a job?

This isn’t some sardonic form of criticism; it’s the truth. The April primary for Long Beach’s election? 11.5% of voters voted. Nearly 9 out of 10 voters in Long Beach refused to show up. And yes, this is that pesky, oddly-timed elected. We get that. But… It’s an election.

“We see this as a great way to expand the work [the Long Beach community] has done to increase civic engagement and voting within groups underrepresented and left out of the political processes in our city.’ – Christine Petit of  Building Health Communities Long Beach.

Come General Election time, we didn’t fare much better: 39.7% of voters came out while that increased slightly to 40.12% for the Statewide Primary Election.

On any given election so far in 2016, we have anywhere from 1 out of 10 to 4 out of 10 voters participating.

Which is where Place Make the Vote (PMTV) comes in.

As a Knight Cities Challenge Award recipient for its PMTV concept, City Fabrick has partnered with other organizations to unite under a common cause: to expand civic engagement in under-represented communities and celebrate the act of voting.

Seven locations throughout the city, including one in DTLB, will be activated by art, entertainment, furniture, food and people, and serve to visually attract residents to the polling site on voting day, Tuesday, November 8. Through social interactions and civic engagement, the PMTV idea hopes to engage more community members in the voting process.

“There’s a lot of emerging efforts around trying to get residents to vote through digital technologies, like Rock the Vote,” said Brian Ulaszewski, City Fabrik’s executive director. “We thought of this idea of creating place around voting stations and events as a way to draw people in and to also celebrate democracy.”

Locations include:

  • The Senior Center at 1150 E 4th St.
  • Covenant Manor at 4th & Atlantic Ave.
  • Burnett Library at 560 E Hill St.
  • Homeland Center at 1321 E Anaheim St.
  • Houghton Park at 6301 Myrtle Ave.
  • Expo Center at 4321 Atlantic Blvd.
  • Villages at Cabrillo at 2001 River Ave.

“We see this as a great way to expand the work [the Long Beach community] has done to increase civic engagement and voting within groups underrepresented and left out of the political processes in our city,” said Christine Petit of  Building Health Communities Long Beach.

For more information, click here.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.