Using street art as a means of informing the public, the South of Downtown Community Development Organization introduced the Civic Sidewalk Series: Census, Art, Vote! During the week of Sept. 21, community organizers and volunteers met at various locations around Lincoln to spray chalk the cement with reminders about voting and the census while registering voters.
The event was a collaboration between the South of Downtown Community Development Organization, Nebraska Civic Engagement Table, Civic Nebraska, YWCA, Lux Center for the Arts and UNL’s Social Practice Coalition. Census, Art, Vote! was a week-long sidewalk art project in the Near South and Everett neighborhoods as well as outside Lincoln High School.
People walking around the area were encouraged to take a minute to participate in the art, even if they are already registered to vote. People even stopped by to share with the volunteers about their experience with voting and why they chose to vote, like retired UNL alum Jake Kirkland Jr.
“You have to really educate people to appreciate that you do have an opportunity. And it’s an extremely important one,” he said.
The event organizer, Christy Yang, said the event hopes to meet people in spaces where they already are to encourage voting and census participation. These efforts were nonpartisan. The organizers and volunteers went into neighborhoods and outside schools to reach potential eligible voters.
Yang along with her other volunteers, helped register voters, on the spot, all week long. Once a potential voter starts the registration process, volunteers aren’t allowed to intervene, but they can answer questions and direct the potential voter beforehand.
Although, not permanent, the sidewalk spray chalk lasts for a few weeks. It serves as a constant, daily reminder in these communities to act now ahead of those deadlines and fill out the census and register to vote.