Upset by the fact that they didn’t have prom as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and eager to mobilize around the 2020 election, a group of young organizers decided to link prom and voting.
Youth organizers launched “Prom at the Polls” Tuesday, a nonpartisan initiative to energize young voters and inspire them to turnout on or ahead of November 3. The initiative encourages young people to make a “prom-poll-sal,” which organizers describe as “the action of asking someone to go to prom at the polls with you” and posting it to social media.
After making their “prom-poll-sal,” participants are encouraged to dress up as if they are going to prom when they cast their ballot – either by mail or in person – and document it on social media.
Prom at the Polls, which launched on National Voter Registration Day, will host a livestream event on November 1, inviting voters and their dates to attend a pseudo-prom party.
The founding organizers of Prom at the Polls include a group of young activists who advocate for a number of issues voting rights, climate justice, immigration reform, and gun violence prevention.
The initiative’s organizers are Jerome Foster II, Randi Garcia, Santiago Mayer, Sophia Shapiro and Matthew Weinstein, who are all between the ages of 18 and 25. They were introduced by actress Alyssa Milano on September 8, organizers said, and immediately started to brainstorm ways to get out the youth vote. That led to Prom at the Polls.
Milano, a leading activist in the #MeToo movement, is an advocate on a number of social issues.
“Voting is how we protect each other. I am so proud of this younger generation. They understand the importance of civic engagement and they are using their voices to inspire other young people to find their voices too,” Milano said in a statement Tuesday.
Organizers bonded over the fact that they didn’t have prom this year, Jerome Foster, 18 and a freshman at Pace University, told CNN.
“We wanted to create an event that brings hope and joy to voting,” Foster said.
While there was high youth voter turnout in the 2018 midterms , Foster noted that not all registered voters hit the polls. He hopes Prom at the Polls will help maintain excitement between National Voter Registration Day and Election Day, ensuring that registered voters turn out in the 2020 election.
Prom at the Polls is in talks to team up with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, as well as a number of celebrities and influencers who will help promote the initiative, Weinstein, 20, told CNN.
Vote.org will track the number of participants who register to vote as a result of the initiative.
"The youth vote comprises a significant portion of this year's electorate, and it is essential that these voices are heard," Vote.org CEO Andrea Hailey said.