Akron Launches its Effort to Make Voting a Joy -- Again

Apr 28, 2016

Citizen University's Eric Liu is coordinating efforts to boost Akron's campaign to make voting a joyful thing.

Akron began its Joy of Voting project last night with a wall full of ideas ranging from guerilla theater at polling places to a community party and get-out-the vote competitions.

Citizen University is coordinating the effort in four cities nationwide: Akron, Philadelphia, Miami and Wichita. Eric Liu is the nonprofit’s founder. He says it’s all part of the effort to leave behind the “eat your vegetables” attitude toward voting, and to return to the raucous community celebrations that were once key part of Election Day.

 “So much of what is going on in national politics is so divisive right now and it is turning so many people off. And part of what we’re trying to do here is restore the sense of place and community and that local feeling of, ‘Hey, however you’re going to vote in national elections, just showing up to vote is what is means to be a citizen of Akron.”

Ideas include street festivals, precinct competitions and even a "voting thermometer" filled with Jello.

Citizen University will pick five projects in each city to get up to $3,600. Liu acknowledges it’s not a huge amount, but says – combined with community energy -- it can generate a lot of joy around voting. The Knight Foundation is funding the efforts.