Join Your Fan Community And Vote: An Interview With NerdsVote’s Mary Elizabeth McGlynn
If you live in the United States, then Tuesday is an important day: midterm elections. Sometimes the midterms get overlooked, but there are a lot of important local elections happening on Tuesday.
In my opinion, midterms are an opportunity to really have your voice heard. While Presidential elections are equally important, there’s something more satisfying about getting to vote on issues closer to home.
Not to mention, it is a chance to make sure your views are reflected in Congress, too.
We’ve talked about NerdsVote a lot. I’ve enjoyed interviewing two out of three of the minds behind it multiple times. But New York Comic Con provided another opportunity: a chance to sit down and talk with the third enthusiastic soul behind the NerdsVote platform.
Behind her signing booth, sitting cross legged on the convention center floor, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and I had a conversation about why voting and voter registration is so important.
How did you get drawn into the world of NerdsVote?
It was Courtenay Taylor. She came up with this idea. I think she put it online and said, “what’s a good name for something that gets Nerds out there to vote?” I remember some guy said, “uh, NerdsVote.” We came up with all these other ideas and it was just…NerdsVote. Then Courtenay brought JP on and then they brought me on.
The two of them are really, really instrumental in making it happen on a daily basis. We premiered in Phoenix which was really amazing. Phoenix Comic Con. We had a great turn out.
Then I was in New Orleans and they were there as well. We registered something like 90 people that weekend. People are getting so much support from other voice actors and people going to conventions, just to get people interested and engaged in decision making.
Their voice does matter, their voice does count. The fate of the world is in their ballot. If you’re unhappy, or if you’re not satisfied with the way the world is going right now you have an opportunity to change it. To get involved. So few millennials vote. And young people, ages 18-24, it is like 18%. It is their world. Their the ones who could be carving out the world that they want to live in and pass to their kids.
I posed this question to JP and Courtenay, and I’m curious about you too. What is it about Voter Registration that made it the avenue through which you got people involved politically?
The thing is, we wanted it to be non-partisan. We obviously all have strong political views, but that’s not about this. This is about making sure – especially going to conventions, and being in the business we’re in where the people we reach are a younger crowd – that we reach millennials and get them interested in voting. We can come to the cons and young people move all the time. They may not realize they’re not registered.
Sometimes now people are getting bumped from their registration. It is just always good to make sure that your registration is current. For instance I was in California and I was registered as an independent and I couldn’t vote in the primary. I thought, alright, for now I do want to be an active participant in the primary process so I’ll change my voter registration. It is important, and we take it for granted that every vote counts.
There was recently an election, I think in Virginia, that was one vote. So it is important. And you really don’t have any right to complain if you don’t participate. It affects all of us. All these issues that are happening right now affect young people especially. All of these issues affect them whether they realize it or not. It is a chance to get involved and make your voice heard.
You guys have gotten to do quite a few conventions now. Are there any standout moments or standout stories?
It is just as simple as someone getting a sticker and saying, “I’m so proud to vote! I’m so proud to register, I’m proud to be an American. I’m proud to be a part of the process.” That’s happened at just about every con that we’ve done, which is wonderful. Some people might ask, well, vote for what? And we say just vote in the election.
The reason we wanted to make it non-partisan was that it is not about us and our views at this point. It is about whether people are having their own views heard. Their own opinions. Not just tweeting it out there but actually getting to the polls and voting!
I find voting to be one of the most empowering things you can do. I love it. I love going in there, I love doing the research, even though it is a pain in the butt. If I don’t know who to vote for, I do a little bit of research and you get to know about your own community. Then you can get excited and think, oh wow, I had a hand in getting this thing passed which is good for the elderly, which is good for education.
It is getting you involved in your own community. It is not just the country, voting for the big ones. It is getting involved in your local government. Get more funding for education if that’s what you want.
One of the things I think JP said early on that was profound about NerdsVote, is that there’s so many compassionate people in fandom and at conventions like this. And regardless of who they’re voting for, if we have a ton of passionate people in their own right all coming together to do something? Then that’s going to make a change.
It might not be a far right change, or far left change, but it is going to be a change. When you bring that number of compassionate, caring, empathetic people together to do something, something good is going to come of it. And it might completely surprise us.
Absolutely. At the end of the day we’re all Americans. It is not us versus them or left versus right, that’s all the partisan bullshit. What’s most important is, are your parents going to have money for Medicare? Are you going to have social security? Are you going to have this, have that, there are things that affect all of us as Americans. We can work together as a country for the betterment of all of us that has nothing to do with all of that other awful crap.
The anger and what’s happening right now is just awful. And it is just a handful of people that are in control of this. So we need to make sure it is the people who are heard. It is a government by the people, for the people, of the people.
While the voter registration deadline has passed for many states, your involvement doesn’t have to end there. There’s so much more to election day than just being registered. If you’ve taken part in early voting in your state, thank you. But if you want to get involved more? Talk to your friends, talk to your family, see if they have plans for getting to the polls on election day.
If you’ve got the time, throw together a last minute voting party. Have some drinks, have some snacks, and talk about what’s going on in your community. If someone you know might need a ride to their polling place and you can get them there, offer.
And, if you live in one of the states with same day voter registration? Then get as many of your friends and acquaintances registered and voting as you can.
When it comes down to it, like Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Courtenay Taylor, JP Karliak, and all of their supporters will tell you, voting isn’t about any one issue. Any one party. Any one thing. It is about coming together as a community of people who care. It is about coming out to make sure your voice is heard, and your neighbor’s voice, and your coworker’s voice, are all being tossed together to create an American symphony.
Like Mary Elizabeth said, at the end of the day we’re all American. We all have a part to play in this democracy, and no election is too small. No issue too insignificant.
Go. Vote. Be awesome. And for the love of NerdsVote, be sure to tag them on Twitter on election day and show off your stickers! I’ve also heard some of their supporters, like Critical Role’s Liam O’Brien, are doing one push-up per voting sticker they’re tagged in for a video after the election.