COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Politics will be on tap at microbreweries all over Ohio this year in a massive effort to “craft the vote.”
While Monday is the last day to register to vote in November’s general election, organizers of Craft the Vote are already looking ahead at 2020 and hoping to get young people into craft breweries, into the conversation and into the voting booth.
It’s a movement that started with a street dance in 2018 when Vice President Mike Pence came to Columbus to speak at a conservative conference. The vice president was greeted by the Big Gay Dance Party, organized in just six days. Organizers used music and dance to try and promote equality and diversity. Now, they want to continue the fun at Ohio breweries to help get young people to vote.
“What we’ve learned over time talking to a lot of young voters, is a lot of people don’t vote or aren’t registered to vote because they think their vote doesn’t count,” Craft the Vote founder Brad Henry said. “They think their parents are going to fix it or they think the big institution otherwise known as ‘The Man’ controls everything anyway so why bother.”
The Land-Grant Brewing Company in Franklinton will host the inaugural Craft the Vote event on Thursday, with DJs and drag queens promoting political involvement.
The League of Women Voters was eager to support Craft the Vote, along with The Ohio State University, the Human Rights Campaign and Equitas Health.
“We’ve been engaging voters for a hundred years, and we are so excited to have a new partner in this work because everyone needs to engage. Every vote counts,” Jen Miller, the CEO of the League of Women Voters, explained.
While young voters led the culture when it came to politics in the 1960s, in recent years the number of active young voters has steadily declined.
“We just did some focus groups with young people and they feel as though the system is confusing,” Miller said. “They feel as though the system is rigged, so we need to do everything we can to engage young people and educate them on how to participate.”
While there weren’t many conservatives participating in the Big Gay Dance Party, organizers say all are welcome at Craft the Vote.
“It’s very bipartisan,” Henry explained. “My take on it is I don’t care who you vote for as long as you vote. But to vote responsibly is kind of a play on words because the three edicts we have is truth, honor and integrity, so it’s up to the individual to get the information and make informed decisions.”