Young Aspenites work to increase voter turnout, focusing on the under-40 demographic | AspenTimes.com

Young Aspenites work to increase voter turnout, focusing on the under-40 demographic

"Get Out The Vote" members Skippy Mesirow and Ashley Feddersen have worked to increase civic participation and voter turnout, focusing specifically on the under-40 demographic, over the past year.

IF YOU GO...

What: Election event hosted by Aspen NextGen, Aspen Young Professionals Association and Aspen Skiing Co.

When: TODAY, 5 to 8 p.m.

Where: The Limelight Hotel

Admission: Free and open to the public

For more information about this event, email Aspen NextGen chair Skippy Mesirow at aspennextgen@gmail.com.

On a chilly, early morning last fall, members of Aspen NextGen pulled up to the Centennial apartments in a large white van and whipped out a loudspeaker to inform residents they were there to help them vote in the November election.

Aspen NextGen chair Skippy Mesirow said they also helped people register to vote, informed members of the community on the ballot issues and drove residents to the polls.

Fast forward a year and NextGen’s efforts to get younger voters to the polls have come a long way since those van and bullhorn days.

But the committee’s objective — which NextGen has since partnered with the Aspen Young Professionals Association and other local organizations in order to achieve — remains the same: To increase civic participation and voter turnout, specifically with the younger-than-40 crowd, otherwise known as the least voting demographic.

The real work started in early 2016, Mesirow said, when Aspen NextGen identified civic participation as one of its two main focuses of the year.

Along with members of the Aspen Young Professionals Association, including president Ashley Feddersen, NextGen formed the Get Out The Vote subcommittee.

As a result of Get Out The Vote’s efforts this year, more than 30 local employers will now include voter registration forms in their new-hire packets, Mesirow said.

Five of the more than 30 employers are some of the largest in the county — including Aspen Skiing Co., Aspen Valley Hospital, the Aspen School District, the city of Aspen and Pitkin County — along with local businesses such as Justice Snow’s, Frias Properties, Belly Up, Shakti Shala yoga studio and Forum Phi architecture firm.

Mesirow said this is particularly useful for connecting with some of the harder-to-reach demographics, which include “young people, new arrivals, transients and those who are lower on the socioeconomic scale.”

Get Out The Vote also has worked with organizations to promote civic participation through advertising and events — like its election event at The Limelight Hotel tonight, Oct. 5.

In partnership with Skico, the event, from 5 to 8 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Event attendees will be able to register to vote on-site, visit stations designed to educate people on several ballot issues and listen to Pitkin County commissioner candidates Scott Writer and Greg Poschman engage in a moderated debate, Mesirow said.

While Get Out The Vote encourages attendees of all ages, Feddersen said she thinks the event is especially beneficial for young people who are new to elections and haven’t had as much time to understand or familiarize themselves with the issues at hand.

“That’s what this event is about,” Feddersen said. “Allowing people the opportunity to register to vote if they haven’t already and learn about each item on the ballot and how it affects them before Election Day.”

For more information on Get Out The Vote or the election event tonight, email Mesirow at aspennextgen@gmail.com

erobbie@aspentimes.com


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