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Is this serious? What's the point?

Yes, it is serious. However, it is genuinely not about trying to "maximize turnout" or get any specific person or party into power. The person making this project and typing these words does not believe in representative democracy. Rather, Vote By Pal is an earnest attempt at connecting people who are able to exercise their constitutional right to vote but aren't personally interested in that, with people who do not have that right.
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. Additionally, Vote By Pal provides a way of turning something that might feel pointless and even depressing into something infused with meaning and significance, by virtue of its value to someone else.

Who is this for?

This project is targeting two kinds of people: Those who can vote but for whatever reason don't want to, and those who can't vote at all.

There are many reasons people can't vote, and any of them are valid reasons to participate in this project: a criminal record that disenfranchises you, immigration status, age, lack of ID in a state with voter ID laws, &c. 

As for people who would otherwise not be voting, I originally created this project when it seemed most people who didn't want to vote fell into one of these categories: they think their vote doesn't matter, they disapprove of the parties or the candidates, they think the whole system is so irredeemable that the most moral thing is to abstain, or they simply do not care enough to go through the rigamarole. While all of those reasons still exist and are understandable to me, it seems pretty clear that the 2024 presidential nominees we've been handed have magnified/amplified/exacerbated/choose-any-verb-ed the reasons a person might feel any of those ways!

My hope is that having a voting pal who doesn't have the same access to the ballot box will give people who would otherwise not want to vote a sense of accountability to someone who will also be impacted by the decisions of elected officials, but doesn't have the opportunity to vote for them.

If you're on the fence about voting, or just kind of apathetic about it (like, "I know I should, but I don't know if I'll get around to it") you can think of signing up as a way to feel accountable to follow through on voting, and to vote in a way that even if it doesn't feel personally meaningful to you, would feel tremendously meaningful to someone else.



But aren't you basically just trying to trick people into voting?

No. There's a subversive provocation here, for sure. But I would say it's leveled just as much at the people in charge (or the system) as at a person who feels that the most righteous thing they can do re: voting is to abstain.

Do you think this will actually change anything? Do you think that voting changes anything?
I know for a fact that when I put out my single-stream recycling every week, it just goes to a landfill. But I still recycle religiously. Maybe that's stupid, but the alternative feels so nihilistic that I can't bear it. Meanwhile, I still do my best to reduce what even goes into the recycling bin, since that is obviously more effective at reducing waste. The point of that imperfect metaphor is that I think at this point, why not just try a thing? Especially a thing that's kind of funny and that connects two human beings who would otherwise not know each other and that reminds them on some level that we are all connected and our actions affect one another (sorry).

Subjecting every individual action to the vague "does it actually work" critique often serves to mostly just express our own individual hopelessness and justify continuing to do nothing. And I think if we keep doing that, rather than creating a dialectic/action-plan, we are pretty fucked. I mean, we may already be irreversibly fucked, but a lot of people felt that way during critical historical moments in the past and then managed to radically un-fuck themselves and their communities! Did they do that through the power of conceptual art projects? Who can say? 

Obviously, if this project has any effect on the elections, it will be negligible. That's not really the point. Much more than electoral politics, I'm interested in creating connections and conversations, and discovering ways that stalwartness and flexibility can meet each other. I'm interested in the complex places where efficacy is more nuanced than something that can be counted and tallied. I'm interested in creating the circumstances for people to do something they wouldn't otherwise do.

Also, big fan of the butterfly effect.

How much am I supposed to communicate with my "pal?"
Totally up to you! You might want to keep it to a brief text exchange where one person simply names the candidate they like. Or, you might want to get to know each other and have a more involved correspondence. The structure, like all human relationships, is fluid and depends on where you're both at.

Do you think it's unethical for someone to weigh in on which candidate for senate a person should vote for if they don't live in the same state?

Nope. The senate makes determinations that affect the whole country and even international policy. And also, that's kind of the least of it.


I want to vote for a third party candidate.
That's not a question. Do what you want.

Who is responsible for this? 

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