Rock the Vote Launches Election Protection Program

In advance of an anticipated surge in young voter turnout on Election Day, Rock the Vote is launching “Rock Your Rights,” a program designed to ensure that all young adults who are eligible to vote are able to do so. “Rock Your Rights” will roll-out a coordinated campaign employing an online election center, a hotline for Election Day information (1-866-OUR VOTE), paid and public service media which includes celebrities and artists including Ashanti, Samuel L Jackson, Robert DeNiro, Rosie Perez, and John Leguizamo and grassroots street teams in target states. 

To date more than 2.5 million people have downloaded registration forms from Rock the Vote (RTV), which is more than double the number of voters Rock the Vote registered in 2004.  

“We have registered a record number of voters and launched national mobilization programs to contact young people about early voting and casting a ballot on Election Day.  Now Rock the Vote is adding a program that makes certain these young Americans are allowed to participate fully when they show up to vote,” said Heather Smith, executive director of Rock the Vote. “We have done our part in getting them registered and mobilized, now we are gearing up to protect our members’ votes.”

We all remember the long lines snaking out of polling places in Ohio and elsewhere with young voters waiting into the night to cast their vote on Election Day in 2004. Many were ultimately denied the opportunity to vote. We must avoid a repeat of that situation and ensure that every young voter is able to vote.

Young voters are paying serious attention to this election and know they will play a major role in a historic moment. There is a political youth movement happening in our country.  According to recent Rock the Vote polling, 87% plan to vote in November and 57% are following the election extremely or very closely.  And overall 88% think that, as a group, young people have the power to change things in this country. 

Rock the Vote predicts the three biggest problems facing these new, young voters this year are:

    * Confusion or misinformation about the voting process and voting rights;
    * Young voters not making it on the rolls due to voter purging or the lack of resources for elections officials to handle the processing of registration forms in a timely manner; and
    * Massive turnout leading to long lines and young voter disenfranchisement on Election Day.

To prevent problems before voters reach the polls, Rock the Vote’s “Rock Your Rights” program will use innovative technology and public service and paid advertising to educate young adults before they reach the polls and mobilize street teams and poll watchers to protect voters on Election Day. The campaign includes:

    * An online election center including a polling locator, information for absentee and overseas voters including resources for college students voting away from home, and a state-by-state guide to rules on identification and other polling requirements.
    * A partnership with the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and the Brennan Center, which provides a hotline for voters to receive information and report polling problems- 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
    * Public service advertisements featuring Samuel L Jackson, Robert DeNiro, Rosie Perez, and John Leguizamo.
    * A paid media campaign including newspaper supplements and radio ads featuring Universal Motown/Inc recording artist and Grammy® Award winner, Ashanti.
    * Street teams and grassroots events across the country. Volunteers are distributing palm cards detailing voter rights that young adults can carry with them to the polls in case they are denied access to the voting booth.

On Election Day, “Rock Your Rights” volunteers equipped with video cameras will serve as poll watchers. They will be trained to answer questions, spot voting rights violations and quickly report problems to our legal network for resolution.

“Now in this historic election year, it is more important than ever that young people cast their ballots on November 4,” commented Grammy Award winning platinum selling pop artist Ashanti. “My family’s deep roots in the Civil Rights movement have taught me that voting is one of our precious privileges and we definitely need to take advantage of this opportunity.” 

Earlier this year, Rock the Vote’s mobile bus tour took to the streets, to build our community street teams, engage new voters in person, and inspire millions to get involved. We have been criss-crossing the country through The Road Trip ( registering and educating young people on the elections process.  The Road Trip will now focus it’s efforts on taking young people to early vote as well as distributing information on polling place locations, absentee ballots, and sharing the 1-866-OUR VOTE hot line number so individuals are prepared if they do encounter any problems.  The Road Trip’s next stops include: Columbus, OH, Philadelphia, PA, and Charlotte, NC.