In the summer, when Josh Neuman and I were talking about the effort that would become Take Back Tuesday, he said he thought business owners would be willing to close up shop for Election Day, to help employees vote and otherwise celebrate democracy. I was skeptical.
Our class "Designing a Phenomenon," taught by Brian Collins and me, is an intensive fourth-year honors class at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. It is solely focused on a designers' ability to influence and change behavior.
Inspired by the GOOD community's Take Back Tuesday challenge, we asked our students to create a new phenomenon around the act of voting. The election of the president should be cause for a celebration around the most important act every American can do: get out and vote. Every four years we debate the reasons for the deep interest in the election on one hand, but the apathy people exhibit around voting on the other.
To that end, we charged the class to rethink the rituals around voting and shift the act into a national holiday on par with other national celebrations, be it Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, or the Fourth of July. Voting is the most important thing any citizen can do—why not celebrate it as such?
Our students had two weeks to develop an idea that could symbolize this new holiday and design supportive communications to encourage broader participation on Election Day. It's one thing to create a new symbol, but it's an entirely different challenge to infuse that symbol with a motivating story. Our students developed a wide range of approaches, ranging from digital and social engagements to the purely celebratory. In the end we selected the work of two students to send along.
Minah Kim: Introducing "E Day"\n
Minah's identity distills the iconic notes found in the American flag into a simple wordmark. By attaching her idea to key moments in election history, Micah reminds us of the significance each vote has in every election, both past and present.
After reading one of my posts—about the importance of creating an American culture of voting—a friend of mine said, "Why not just pass a law, make people vote?"
This question often comes up in discussions about turnout, and it's a good one. The best model is Australia, which has a law authorizing fines for non-voters that rise with each offense. The law doesn't require Australians to vote for a candidate but merely to show up.