Notes from the Road

[Written by Trick or Vote all-star Genna Beier, now on tour with Passion Pit as part of the Campus Consciousness Tour].

Passion Pit rocks. And not just because their synth-laden electro-pop makes you want to boogie. They rock because they care about issues that affect young people. I got the lucky gig of traveling with Passion Pit on Reverb’s Campus Consciousness Tour—part awesome concert, part social-awareness building. In three weeks we’ll be hitting twelve college campuses with our partners at Rock the Vote to collect voter pledge cards, promote the heck out of Trick or Vote, and rock out. Our mission: to show that young people are not afraid to vote their hearts out this election.

Passion Pit and their fans have been friends to democracy so far. We’ve pounded the pavement with dozens of costumed volunteers to collect over 800 voter pledge cards from students at UNH, Penn State, Temple, Michigan State, University of Illinois and Northern Illinois University. We’ve engaged students about Trick or Vote events in their area. We’ve rubbed elbows with pop-greatness and found that they care just as much about voting as we do. Passion Pit personally thanks volunteers every night, and today at Temple they were out collecting pledge cards with us in 40 degree blustery weather. That’s just the opening act. We’ve got six more dates, five more states, and thousands more young folks to talk to.

How to Fundraise with Adopt a Monster

Greetings Trick or Voters!

As that spooky day rapidly approaches, we’ve made a helpful video which can hopefully guide you to Adopt-a-Monsters riches.

Boo! Calling All Haunted Hosts.

So you’ve heard of Trick or Vote.  You’ve watched the videos dozens of times.  (Your favorite is the Witch.) You’ve read the website inside and out.  (Thanks for catching the typos.) You’ve obviously signed up for the Portland event.  You’ve even got your costumed picked out.  (You’re going as a Sarah Palin/Lady Gaga/a LOL-cat).  And yet you’re longing for more witty political puns, over-used Halloween alliterations and an even more meaningful way to scare out the vote.

You are clearly supposed to be…a Haunted Host.

Haunted Hosts are the heart’n’spooky soul of Trick or Vote Portland. But for this team of glorious volunteers, Trick or Vote would be terrifyingly boring.  As a Haunted Host, here’s what you’ll commit to doin':

  • Bringing 5 folks to join in on the scary fun of Trick or Vote
  • Helping raise some monster money for democracy using Adopt a Monster
  • Being a canvass team leader at Trick or Vote and attending a quick Trick or Training to get the low-down on logistics for the event

What’s in it for you, you ask?

  1. A Fulfilled Spirit of Goodery.  Duh.  Karma like whoa.
  2. Shweet Shtuff.  We wanna reward your do-goodery with a lil’ material love, too of course.  Here’s how it works:

  • The Raffles:
    • Between now and Trick or Vote we’re going to raffle off two stellar prizes – a month of free Stumptown coffee and a free flight to anywhere in Oregon care of Captain Joe Smith (yup, Jefferson’s dad).
    • For each name & contact info of a friend you’ve recruited to Trick or Vote, you’ll get a raffle ticket.  More recruits = more chances of soaring over the Deschutes with the glorious Joe Smith.
    • The first raffle will be Thursday, October 7th, 2010 at the Haunted Host Scream Team meeting.  The second will be at the Trick or Training meeting a week before the event.
  • The Big Shnazzy Prize:
    • For the most successful monster magnet of them all, we’ll award one very awesome prize at the event on Halloween: a free weekend getaway to a beautiful Black Butte cabin.

Doesn’t this sound frighteningly fun?  Ready to get haunting yet?  Yeah.  We thought so.

Drop your deets here so we know you’re down to be a Haunted Host:

If you have any questions, hit up Mollie Ruskin at mollie@busproject.org or 503.233.3018.  Let’s get spooky.

Young People: The Laughingstock of Politics

I’m biased toward laughter. My life is a recipe with equal parts Halloween, democracy, fun, and getting out the vote. That’s just what happens when you work for a program like Trick or Vote. When other people are attending conventions in suits and ties, I get to dress up as a ghost or a vampire. What do ghosts want out of democracy? Transparency. What do I want? A little fun.

Making an impact in any community is hard work, but does it have to be so damn serious? There’s plenty of things to be uptight about: the economy, student loans, unemployment, and the entry-level math requirement that made my senior year drag on forever. In times like these it can seem difficult to laugh at yourself or anyone else. Here’s our chance.

We’re young, smart, and painfully funny. We are the generation of Colbert Report and Daily Show, Funny or Die, and The Onion. We’re here not just to laugh, but to change the world. Organizations from Rock the Vote to Campus Progress, Headcount to local programs are seeing the need to talk to young people on their terms. These guys are bridging the large deficit between what politics used to be (boring, negative and for old people) to what it’s becoming today (still smart, but funny, young and positive).

I’m not saying politics isn’t serious business. The decisions made by our elected officials can make or break people’s lives. But when we make politics dry, boring, and elitist, we end up excluding a lot of the people who need to be reached the most.

Real impact is made when people get involved. More people will get involved the more fun they have. That’s why I love hearing about organizations registering people to vote at concerts, bars, and outdoor events.

Not only are youth-focused organizations fun, they’re framing things differently. A lot of people are focused on how much they hate each other, themselves, and all of the political obstacles. Young people are focused on opportunities and results. Alan Gerber did a study out of Yale finding that more people will mobilize to positive messages about voter turnout than negative ones. The culture of hate and negativity is dying and we’re going to be the first to stand up and laugh about it (and everything else).

Wednesday, September 1st is the official video launching day for Trick or Vote. Why do I love it so much? It’s freaking silly. A get out the vote campaign that takes the side of monsters instead of political parties, calls their biggest national partners “headless honchos”, and releases ridiculous videos centered around politically incorrect monsters? Yes, please!

But like I said, I’m biased.

As featured on The Huffington Post: http://bit.ly/deBxQm

Passion Pit gets their democracy on

Music and Halloween go way back.  And this fall, we’re adding a new chapter to the saga when Trick or Vote goes on tour with Passion Pit.

Yes, that Passion Pit.

This October, as we get closer and closer to all hallows eve, Trick or Vote will team up with our pals at Rock the Vote and Reverb on the Campus Consciousness Tour.

The mission: to spook out the vote on dozens of college campuses and get the next generation giving a hoot about their democracy.

The magic: mixing voter engagement with the musical stylings of one of the indie scene’s darlings, Passion Pit.

We’ll announce the full tour schedule soon.  In the meantime watch this:

Get ready to do this:

Vote

And put on your favorite vampire cape to get a taste of what October’s scariest tour’s going to be all about.

Scaring Our Way Across the USA

Halloween is just 62 days away.  Fortunately, volunteers across the country are hard at work planning their frightening festivities for Trick or Vote.

We’re proud to announce that we have over 30 Trick or Vote events currently being organized in 13 different states.  What does all that ghoulish vote-spooking look like? It looks a little somethin’ like this:

That’s a whole lotta Halloween action, but there’s still more places to creep into.  That’s where you come in.  Whether you work for a community organization, lead a student group or are just a regular old Joe Monster, you can sign up to host your own Trick or Vote event and help us fill in the rest of the map.

Just click here to see if there’s already a Trick or Vote event being planned in your community.  If there’s not, sign up to host your own and we’ll give you all the tools you need to get your spook on.

Making Voting Ghoul Again in 2010

“This is brilliant,” I thought to myself while staring at a crowd of zombies, vampires, witches and the undead. I had attended plenty of get out the vote efforts, but never like this. The room was packed, Monster Bash was playing loudly over the speakers, and everyone was dripping thick cornstarch blood.

“Welcome to Trick or Vote!” said a bright eyed Bride of Frankenstein as she handed me a clipboard.

I knew then I was hooked.

Engaging, educating, and empowering our peers is incredible work, but canvassing can be intimidating for volunteers. It’s incredibly difficult to talk to strangers and ask them to vote, but it’s increasingly the one thing that works to mobilize people. I wanted to do important work side-by-side with my peers and have a good time doing it. When I heard about a Halloween themed GOTV effort, I couldn’t help but show up. Trick or Vote provided a natural and funny way for me to talk to my neighbors.

“Where did you guys come up with this?” I prodded the head zombie while trying not to stare directly into the large fake gash across his forehead. (Even a zombie might find it rude).

“Well, a study was done at Yale in 2001 that showed that face-to-face contact is the single best way to get someone to vote,” said the zombie. “Knocking doors is the best method of doing that. So if knocking doors is the best way to get people to vote, what single day do people expect a knock on their door from a stranger?”

“Halloween?” I responded.

“And when does Halloween happen to fall?”

“Right before elections.”

I was in awe–the brilliance behind Trick or Vote struck me like lightning. (Which a 16 year-old Frankenstein assured me was an accurate description).

If the fake blood and brilliant idea didn’t get me, the turn-out results definitely did.

In 2008, when absolutely everyone I knew was getting involved in politics in some way or another, I didn’t think that a one-night canvass would have much of an effect. I was dead wrong. While pre-recorded calls turn people out at a rate of 0% to -0.2%, David Nickerson ran a study that showed Trick or Vote was turning people out at 5%. That’s enough to change elections!

I later discovered that we weren’t alone that night. Our event of 150 boys and ghouls was just one of 35 events nationwide in 2008 that contacted over 100,000 voters. Young people showed up in the thousands painted pale and wearing fangs, went out and asked their neighbors to vote, and came back to dance the night away to live music.

In 2010 we’re doing it again, but bigger.

I’m proud to be a part of Trick or Vote this year. We’re making 2010 the biggest one in history. We’re doubling our goals and not stopping there. We’re going to be in at least 50 cities nationwide from Portland, OR to Orlando, FL and we want to haunt your town.

Join us.

(Previously posted on Huffington Post here).

Report from Campus Progress National Conference

Even though there’s nothing spooky about hundreds of passionate campus leaders working together to give their generation a voice in this election, the site was down right awesome at the Campus Progress National Conference last week. Fortunately,  a couple Trick or Vote Monsters were on hand to add a little fright-factor to the mix.

The Vampire and Witch were seen prowling the friendly confines of the Omni hotel in Washington, D.C., drawing more than a few confused stares from conference goers.  They also managed to stir up some serious interest in the nation’s largest spook-out-the-vote effort, including from Baratunde Thurston (web editor of The Onion) and Ken Layne (editor of Wonkette) when the two panelists noticed them in the audience.

But most important they recruited dozens of interested campus leaders to organize Trick or Vote events across the country.  If you missed the Monsters at the conference but want to host your own event, sign up today.

Campus Monsters Unite!

Calling all campus leaders.  Wanna do more this halloween than dress up as a sexy pirate and drink cheap beverages in grimy basements? Then sign up to organize a Trick or Vote event on your campus and help spook out the vote and make sure our generation’s voice is heard in 2010.

Here’s how it works:

  • Sign up on trickorvote.org to host an event
  • Choose your activity:
    • Door-to-Door: Increase turnout by 8-12% by knocking on doors in costume.  You can knock on doors in neighborhoods or rock a good old fashioned dorm storm.
    • Creepy Calls: Increase turnout by 4% using fancy computer technology to talk to a whole mess of voters.
    • Monster Invasions: Take to the streets, do class raps, or do something totally new.  Just dress up in costume and collect voter pledge cards all of September and October.
  • Your event will be listed on trickorvote.org.  Use the website to recruit volunteers and raise funds through trickorvote.org
  • We’ll give you all the training, materials, and support you need to pull it off.

Those are the basics.  But the fun part comes when you figure out how to make Trick or Vote your own thing.  Throw a party, find some prizes, get a DJ, have a contest between dorms, you name it.  Trick or Vote is here to help you make a difference on your campus.  (and if you’ve got a great idea for how to take a campus Trick or Vote event to the next level, tell us in the comments).

Sound good? What are you waiting for.  Signup today.

Welcome to the Trick or Vote blog

Welcome to the blog, monsters.  We’ll be keeping this up to date with all the news that’s fit to creep as we gear up for the nation’s premier get out the vote effort.

Stay tuned for more tales from the Trick or Vote crypt from now until Halloween.