In the midst of increasing political polarization and conflict, Donald Harrison renewed his mission to activate the next voting demographic. Harrison, an experienced video director and editor based in Ann Arbor, Mich., explained his philosophy: evoking election engagement amongst young voters.
“I think in analogies often,” Harrison said. “If an individual isn’t exercising, they’re less likely to be healthy over the long term. Similarly, if you’re not actively participating in our electoral system … the less healthy our democracy is over the long term. To me, I would love to see more people getting informed in between the elections.”
Prior to the 2018 elections, Harrison, in partnership with Washtenaw County, made a four-part video series detailing how to vote. These videos specifically targeted young voters. The series needed updates after state-wide voter registration reforms overwhelmingly passed in 2018, so Harrison completely reimagined the approach in order to address the drastic change in how voters register and the voting process itself. The last two of the four new videos were recently published.
The new videos detailed two major topics: registration and absentee voting. Registration is the first step to voting. Proposal 3 opened new and easier means to register, and with the youth as the target audience of Harrison’s videos, getting first time voters registered was the primary focus of one video. Absentee voters in the State of Michigan are now not required to present a reason why they are voting absentee. This expanded electoral accessibility can only have an impact if voters know how to use it, so the second video explained this process.
Harrison laid out the importance of electoral engagement by emphasizing the impact of individual participation in the democratic process.
“In order for our democracy to be healthy, people need to participate in it,” Harrison said. “Get informed. Get involved. Get registered. Go vote. If you aren’t involved in making decisions, those decisions will be made for you.”
Sharing a personal perspective, Harrison stressed that he didn’t want young people to regret standing idly by as their future is decided for them.
“In hindsight, you might realize that you could have done something that you wish you had, so why not be proactive about it,” Harrison continued. “We’re trying to give people information in a fun informative way that encourages them to get involved and exercise their own democratic rights.”