Washington, DC - June 23, 2014
Rock the Vote, the non-profit and non-partisan organization that was founded nearly 25 years ago with the mission of engaging and building the political power of young people today announced the launch of an unprecedented effort around the 2014 Midterm elections, including a goal of registering 1.5 million new voters, including 400,000 young people, an awareness-raising campaign on voting rights, and plans to advocate for policies that will make voting easier for a 21st century electorate.
Rock the Vote also launched a new, easy-to-use and mobile friendly website at RockTheVote.com and announced the hiring of a new leadership team for 2014 including incoming President Ashley Spillane, Chief of Staff and General Counsel Liz Howard, Strategic Partnerships Director Dominic Lowell, Digital Director Alma Chapa, and Spokesperson Audrey Gelman.
“We could not be more excited about kicking off our efforts to organize the largest youth voter registration and mobilization effort in the country in 2014,” said President Ashley Spillane. “With 12,000 Americans turning 18 each day, we cannot afford to have young people sit out the political process when so much is at stake for their future.”
With ‘Millennials’ growing rapidly in numbers – there are over 86 million today in the U.S., and 12,000 Americans turning 18 each day – and outpacing baby boomers as a potential voting bloc, interest in electoral participation remains low, particularly in off-year elections. Fewer than 25% of young Americans currently plan to vote in the midterm election, according to a poll conducted by the Harvard Institute on Politics. But Millennials are optimistic about their futures, and want to play a bigger role in the political process if Republicans and Democrats begin speaking about the issues that effect their lives, research from the Youth Engagement Fund revealed earlier this year – those issues college affordability, job creation women’s health, equality and fairness, the environment, and immigration.
Using a combination of online, mobile and grassroots voter outreach and amplifying the voices of our generations most creative and talented entertainers, Rock the Vote will create an atmosphere of voter engagement and excitement leading up to this November.
In 2014, Rock the Vote will aim to register 1.5 million people; that goal includes over 400,000 young people. With over 66,000 American Latinos turning 18 every month in the US, Rock the Vote is setting a goal of registering over 100,000 Latinos and targeting 15 states with youth and Latino dense populations, and where voting rights are threatened by recently passed state legislation. These states include: AZ, CA, CO, IA, GA, FL, OH, MI, NC, NM, PA, WI, and TX.
In addition to its registration efforts, Rock the Vote will work to raise awareness of the impact of voting rights laws on young people by tracking legislation and court cases and educate its network about new developments on voting rights and advocate to make voting easier for a 21st century electorate through expanded early voting, same-day and online registration. Rock the Vote recently joined an amicus brief along with Voto Latino and other community-based voter registration organizations to question the Constitutionality of the recent proof-of-citizenship laws for new registrants passed in Kansas and Arizona, saying “unduly impair voter registration when tens of millions of eligible persons remain unregistered to vote.” An Appeals Court will be hearing oral arguments in the case on August 25th.
Since 1990, Rock the Vote has revolutionized the use of pop culture, music, art and technology to inspire political activity. Whether it’s Madonna wrapping herself in the flag for the first Rock the Vote PSA to Snoop Dogg launching our bus tour in 2004, Rock the Vote represents the historic and groundbreaking intersection of culture and politics. Rock the Vote helped pass the National Voter Registration Act, and their online voter registration tool has been translated into 12 languages. Registering over 6 million voters, and educating thousands of young people through “Democracy Class,” Rock the Vote has become the preeminent authority on how to mobilize young voters.
Ashley Spillane recently joined Rock the Vote as the organization’s new president; Spillane brings more than 10 years of experience in electoral politics, most recently serving at democratic GAIN and as the Executive Director of The Atlas Project where she spearheaded the development of an interactive web platform that provides organizations access to the raw data and tools needed to develop smart, strategic programs and campaigns at the local, state, and national levels. Ashley has more than a decade of experience in electoral and political campaigning– from Presidential races to the DCCC.
Liz Howard is joining Rock the Vote as Chief of Staff and General Counsel. Liz previously worked at Sandler Reiff Young & Lamb law firm where she advised federal, state and local political committees and candidates; state and national parties; section 527 organizations; nonprofit organizations and for-profit corporations. Specializing in election administration matters, she developed and oversaw voter protection efforts for multiple candidates and parties. While attending William & Mary Law School, Liz co-founded the first Election Law Society in the country.
Audrey Gelman, a Vice President at the public affairs firm SKDKnickerbocker, will serve as National Spokesperson and Senior Advisor for Artist Outreach. Gelman, a former Deputy Communications Director for New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer most recently served as spokesperson in Stringer’s come-from-behind victory against former Governor Eliot Spitzer. In 2012, Audrey helped to re-launch Downtown for Democracy PAC, a political action committee originally formed in 2004 to engage the creative community in electoral politics, referred to as the ‘Hipster PAC” by New York Magazine. Gelman is also a contributing editor at Marie Claire magazine.
Dominic Lowell is joining Rock the Vote as the Director of Strategic Partnerships and will be responsible for engaging, coordinating, and building relationships with all of Rock the Vote’s partner organizations to advance its goal of registering and mobilizing millions of young people to vote. Prior to joining Rock the Vote, Dominic served as the Vice President of Investment Services at the Democracy Alliance (DA), a partnership of donors who coordinate and leverage their philanthropic investments to maximize political impact.
Alma Chapa has spent her entire career working in digital activism and advocacy, primarily focusing on voter registration and community engagement of the Millennial generation. Prior to joining Rock the Vote, Alma worked at the State Department in their Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking In Persons and at the boutique communications consulting firm, OMP, where she helped to plan, and run, various advocacy and fundraising campaigns for leading progressive non profits and causes.
They join Chief Technology Officer David Pruter, Program Manager Andrew Goodwin, New Media Manager Austin Estes, and Brand & Events Manager Lena Bell to form the core Rock the Vote team, headquartered in Washington, D.C. Former Rock the Vote President Heather Smith will join the organization’s Board of Directors.
Audrey Gelman | email@example.com | 646-436-3296