Vote by Pal

Leading up to the 2020 elections, I created a project called "Vote by Pal." Vote by Pal was a simple concept: People who were not planning to vote (but were eligible) could be paired with a "pal" who wished they could vote but wasn't eligible (citizenship status, age, criminal record, &c.). The person who couldn't vote could tell their pal who they would vote for, and then that person could choose to vote that ticket on their pal's behalf.

People signed up via a simple website, and I paired people with pals as they registered. All told, about 9 pairs of pals were matched and cast votes. In a moment when every possible stop was being pulled out to get people to the polls, Vote by Pal was an experiment in power sharing, accountability, flexibility and combating the effects (both political and personal) of disenfranchisement. I am more interested in making sure that rights are exercised to their fullest and building solidarity and connection between people who have differing access to those rights, than I am interested in the electoral process itself..  

Obviously, if this project were to have any real effect on the 2020 elections, it would be be negligible. But that was neverthe point. Much more than electoral politics, the project worked to foster connections and conversations, and dug at ways that stalwartness and flexibility can meet each other. It also opened up space to consider how efficacy is more nuanced than something that can be counted and tallied. In my book, anything that effectively creates a circumstance for people to do something they wouldn't otherwise do is pretty cool.

Also, big fan of the butterfly effect.


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Click above to read the full op-ed I wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer about the piece.