Do Statement Pieces Really Get Out The Vote?
by Anika Ramchandani
The general election is coming up on Nov. 3, and now more than ever, it is so important that people voice their opinions. The best possible way to do that is by voting. Younger generations have finally gotten more involved in politics and activism. With the concern of voter turnout, people have been doing everything they can to “Get Out The Vote,” a.k.a. GOTV. One method of achieving that, which seems to be popular, is wearing accessories and clothes with the word “Vote” or a related phrase as a means of mobilizing voters; but is it truly effective? Many do not think so.
It is our civic duty as Americans to elect the people that we truly feel will represent our morals and ideas for this country’s future. In the past century, voter turnout has averaged to roughly 50%. During the last presidential election in 2016, only 55.5% of the voter population voted. When looking at age, most voters were 45 and older; this should not be the case since the legal age to vote is 18. Younger people are simply allowing older age groups to determine our future when we fully have the capability to vote and make sure our voices are heard.
As someone who is majoring in political science with the hopes of working in Washington, D.C. next year, I could not stress how important it is that we exercise our civic right to vote. Campaigns and political organizations spend countless hours figuring out how to engage voters and ensure they actually get out and vote. They also spend a vast amount of money on their design team responsible for creating logos and graphics that will go onto clothing and accessories. But, I am more focused on the effectiveness of a simple “Vote” shirt, necklace, hats, etc.
Michelle Obama notably wore a Vote necklace during her speech at the Democratic National Convention, which was held remotely. I am not going to lie; I almost bought it. But, would my wearing of this necklace actually motivate people to go out and vote? I didn’t seem to think so, which strayed me from buying the charming necklace. It really came down to me, feeling better about myself for voting and promoting it. I doubt many would be encouraged to vote after seeing my necklace or any other clothing or accessories article. Morgan Cassidy (CAS ’21) felt the same way, but pointed out a positive aspect of “Vote” apparel and accessories: “It creates unity among people who already are voting,” she said.
An important thing to point out is that the impact will vary depending on whether you have a substantial audience, claims Elvira Liljekvist (CAS ’21).
“For example, an influencer, celebrity or any other notable person such as a politician could wear something that says ‘Vote’ and it could motivate someone who idolizes that person to get out and vote,” Liljekvist said. She went on to say that if it is someone who does not really have a significant social media presence or notable following, it can be seen as a self-serving move.
This generation is committed to being socially responsible and aware—which is such a good thing. But, more often than not, we put ourselves on a pedestal for doing the bare minimum. So, make sure to practice what you preach. Get out and vote, make calls and texts for campaigns and organizations and get five people you know to vote! It counts.
There’s no shame in buying the shirt or necklace, if you want.