SDCC 2018: NerdsVote is Making Voter Registration Awesome Again and Coming to a Con Near You [Interview]

Rolling up to the Cartoon Voices 1 panel at San Diego Comic Con, I was delighted to see the NerdsVote logo splashed across the participants on the stage. Nearly everyone on the panel was rocking a NerdsVote t-shirt and I sat in the audience proudly wearing mine. After the panel I was able to catch up in-person with Courtenay Taylor and JP Karliak, two-thirds of the trio that makes up NerdsVote for a quick interview. 

We’ve talked with them before, but wanted to get their in-person, on-the-ground experience at San Diego Comic Con. 

I know NerdsVote isn’t here at San Diego Comic Con in an “official” capacity in the sense that you have a booth, but I’m glad there’s still a presence. How has the experience been for you guys? 

JP Karliak: The experience has been great, I mean you know, especially post panel. Everybody was standing and clapping. People have a good feeling about voter registration, especially when you’re coming at it from a non-partisan angle where it is just about getting out the vote so that everyone has a voice that is able and eligible to have one. 

Courtenay Taylor: And it is nice to have people start to shift that paradigm of “ugh, that’s something I have to do – my civic duty” to “be a voter, not someone who has to vote.” It is more proactive, it is more interested, it is more involved as opposed to just saying “Oh I guess I’ll call someone to figure out who to vote for”.

It has been nice to see people, I’ve been flagged down a few times with our social media push kicking in, I’ve had people stop me in the aisles and asking me about it.

Someone just leaving the panel stopped me and actually has the tshirt up – the teepublic website – and was asking about the fit and the cut and the color. We hope that we’re making it fun and more interesting and more appealing and attractive. 

On this panel you had some very awesome “notable nerds” wearing your swag and promoting it – 

JPK: Oh did we do that? [laughs] 

Yes, just a few little people…can you talk a little bit about what it has been like to pull people in and how the response has been from the “notable nerd” angle? 

CT: By their hair! [laughs] No, not at all.

JPK: It has been quite the opposite! A lot of people are frustrated with how things are going in the country no matter what way their political leanings are. When you’re of a certain stature you have to ask yourself “what can I do that isn’t going to freak out my fan base?”

This feels like such an honest and easy and transparent channel to get involved with. Also, we have cool shirts. Courtenay was hosting a bedazzling party with some of the notable nerds. That’s why Julie and Kari’s had extras on them. 

So that’s why their’s had jewels on them! I wondered where they got them. 

JPK: Maybe we should do something where we auction off the bedazzled versions.

CT: Our third partner, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, who isn’t here this weekend, we all went over to her house and I invited my – mostly – girlfriends but some guys came too. We went to craft stores and got spikes for some of us – me – and sparkles for some people  – Julie Nathanson, Kari Wahlgren – and everyone put their own spin on it. We had Erika Ishi from Game Engine on Twitch, she was doing cuts and weaving hers. It was great to take it and put your own personal touch on it. 

To walk back to the original question, everybody has been excited to be able to do something that’s pro-democracy, pro-America, without dividing people. 

JPK: It is positive,.

CT: Yeah, no matter how you look at things being involved can never be a bad thing. So people have been excited about that and definitely excited about the cool shirts. We have so many different styles and colors – 

I know! I’m wearing the tank top.

CT: The tank top is good, I’m wearing one from before we had a logo. 

JPK: She’s got the OG top.

CT: And things are really kicking up. We’ve got GenCon in Indianapolis with all the Critical Role folks which is great because they have an amazing following of Critters. 

JPK: We’ve got MegaCon in minutes it feels like.

CT: In New Orleans, and then we’ve got Megacon in Tampa we’re doing in a couple months. We’re getting a lot more interest from people, people are reaching out to us and asking on Twitter if we’re going to be at certain conventions so it is starting to take off!

JPK: One of the coolest things was seeing people tweet at San Diego Comic Con saying, “hey, why don’t you have NerdsVote there?” Which, to be fair to San Diego Comic Con we’re not ragging on them in any way.

We started NerdsVote about, what, three months ago? Getting a significant booth and presence at Comic Con doesn’t just happen overnight. However, it is cool to see people have that urgency that they want to see us at the convention they’re going to. It is neat. 

With all of these events coming up I know you guys are always looking for volunteers. How can people get involved and what are the details of that?

CT: The great thing is, is that our boots on the ground are through Headcount.org and they have a large posse of volunteers that they use in different cities. The nice thing is that we can bring in people from our posse of nerds –

JPK: From nerdom

CT: Yes, from nerdom, in any given city. If you want to volunteer you can hit us up on the website and we will connect you directly with the Headcount volunteer sign-up. 

JPK: You do have to register with Headcount in order to volunteer at the booth but if you go to our convention calendar on the website, all the places we are going are there. You have to click on the link and then you just register. The cool thing is, you’re not chained to a desk. You might work for four hours but then you get to wander around the convention for free. You’re not just helping nerds register to vote and broadening our democracy but you get into a con for free!

CT: And a lot of our notable nerds will scoot by the table and you get to be part of this amazing movement and talk to people randomly on the street because you’ll probably be wearing NerdsVote swag, or stickers. It has been a great icebreaker for us. It is great for everybody and I love the idea that people who might not be able to afford a pass can get in and enjoy and also get to engage people. 

That’s all my questions! Unless there’s anything else you would like to add. 

CT: My question for you is how do you like your shirt? 

I love it! It is so comfortable.

CT: Have you washed it? Colors did not fade? 

Yes! No – and I have other TeePublic shirts and they’re phenomenal. 

JPK: That’s why I went with them, I love all their stuff, and they have a sale about every three weeks. 

So you’ve heard it kids – go get an awesome t-shirt. Or laptop case. Or onesie for your future voter. Or honestly any number of amazing products that TeePublic offers with the NerdsVote logo on it. 

We want to give a shout out to JP Karliak and Courtenay Taylor for sitting down with us once again in the midst of a crazy convention to share more about NerdsVote! If you want to learn more you can check out their website, follow them on Twitter, or keep an eye on their instagram. Be sure to check out their calendar to see when they are going to be a con near you. 

And folks? Don’t forget to register to vote and let your voice be heard during the upcoming midterm season. Your voice and your vote count, even if it might feel like they don’t.