As the elections approach, local organizations are scrambling to connect with young voters virtually.
Live Arts Miami and Miami Dade College hosted “Make your Mark Miami!” earlier this month for just this purpose.
The Oct. 8 rally included guests such as Latin Grammy Award winner Aymee Nuviola and poet Richard Blanco, who spoke at Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
“When it comes to inspiring action, artists are especially well equipped,” said Kathryn Garcia, executive director for Live Arts Miami. “Polemicists and instigators, public defenders and artists are an essential part of our democratic process.”
Live Arts Miami, a platform for local artists and community programs, partnered up with organizations that work on civic engagement by encouraging the people to vote, such as the League of Women Voters and Radical Partners.
“Back in 2016, we were getting ready for the elections, and we realized we had to dig through so much on the internet to try and have access to good voter information,” said Nicky Zarchen, community engagement manager for Radical Partners. “Democracy works best when all of us are involved, and we had to find a way to make our voices heard.”
Radical Partners focuses on social change through partnerships with other local non-profit organizations. They offer online resources as guidance for voters, including infographics in their social media accounts and VoteMiami.org, a website that provides background and campaign information about the 2020 presidential and mayoral candidates.
“In 2016, if ‘not voting’ had been a candidate, it would have won by a landslide,” said Garcia. “Young voters make up 30% of the voters in our community, and it is critical to help shape our collective future.”
Engage Miami, a non-profit organization that dedicates to civically educate and register young people to vote, was also involved in the online rally.
“We have to build the voice and the power of young people by making sure everyone we know is going to vote,” said Gilbert Placeres, the group’s organizing director.
The group also encourages people to be poll workers.
“We also go to schools and colleges to speak about the importance of being civically engaged,” said spokeswoman Mariana Ochoa. “There are a lot of decisions being made on our behalf that affect our everyday life and our community, and we try to get the word out when those big decisions are happening.”
Although Engage Miami moved their events and local activities to virtual platforms after the pandemic hit the nation, Ochoa said they have managed to register more than 20,000 voters for the upcoming elections.
“I think the pandemic has helped to prove how resilient we all are, and we have had to reinvent how we operate in ways that will stay with us long after the pandemic is resolved,” said Garcia. “This time only strengthened our resolve and our mission to create positive change in our community through the arts, and we are up to the challenge.”