SID LEE, Montreal / ROCK THE VOTE / 2021
While youth voter turnout is on the rise in the U.S., their numbers are still drastically lower than older Americans’. According to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, on average, 43% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they are likely to vote. In reality, only 5% to 19% usually turn out. This low number isn’t due to apathy, but to a lack of education on how the voting process works. Because of this lack of education, kids have no way to actually have a practice round and understand the process before they get to the voting booth.
How can we increase youth voter turnout in America?
• Get first-time voters and kids under 18 years old to engage with the electoral process.
• Raise awareness about Rock the Vote among young American voters.
Build the Vote is an educational gaming experience made for the future generations of voters that aims to teach them in a world they understand: Minecraft.
In the world of Build the Vote, a grand capitol-like building draped with American flags awaits players. This building is a simulation designed to educate kids on the voting process and give them both a practice round before they turn 18 and a chance to share their opinions on several issues.
Once kids arrive in the world, they enter the capitol-inspired voting house and “register” to vote. Along the way, they will find checkpoints explaining different aspects of the voting process. Once “registered,” players enter a private voting room. Here, they get to vote on the 10 most important issues of the 2020 election, like gun laws, healthcare access, and global warming. The results of the vote are then shared with American voters.
To reach our main audience, we used the Minecraft community and well-known young activists like Little Miss Flint and influencers like Scotty Hubs to promote the experience on the most popular social platforms (TikTok, Instagram, Twitch) among kids 12 to 17 and first-time voters.
The young ambassadors not only posted about the experience, but also became part of it by using their Minecraft avatars as the voice of the campaign.
To reach parents and teachers, Rock the Vote’s targeted PR approach helped feature the project on popular tech, political, and gaming news outlets (The Verge, NPR, TheGamer, Tech Savvy Mama), turning this audience into our ambassadors and inviting kids to undergo their first voting experience via Build the Vote.
Not only did we publish posts on popular Minecraft forums and international websites, but we also sent directed tweets to politicians who support gaming like AOC and Bernie Sanders.
Inside Minecraft resides a server called Build the Vote. On it, a grand capitol-like white building draped with American flags awaits players. The world, which took three months to build, is a simulation designed to educate kids on the voting process and give them the chance to share their opinions on several issues.
Once kids are on the server, they can enter the capitol-inspired voting house and “register” to vote. Along the way, they will find checkpoints explaining different aspects of the voting process. Once registered, players enter a private voting room. To stress the importance of making their own political decisions, young people voted not on Trump or Biden, but on the 10 most important issues of the 2020 election: gun laws, healthcare access, global warming, student loans, combating corruption, racial equality, criminal justice reform, job stability, immigration, and the education system.
The national campaign launched on October 20, 2020, and Build the Vote opened its doors on October 26, 2020. The voting period lasted until November 2, one day before the U.S. presidential election.
First, Rock the Vote and its ambassadors released a short video on their social platforms to invite kids to visit the world and have their voices heard ahead of the election. The video featured the young ambassadors' Minecraft avatars touring Build the Vote. In the following days, static and video posts reminded them to visit.
Rock the Vote also launched a PR push to generate a conversation among parents and teachers around their efforts to educate kids on the voting process.
On November 2, the results of the vote were released to let America know what young people wanted for the future of the country. Rock the Vote, teachers, parents, and the young ambassadors shared the results.
During the seven-day voting period, the tool generated an 85% voting rate and garnered 362M impressions, with over 110 news articles worldwide. It helped propel Rock the Vote to the forefront of the conversation in the U.S. when it comes to civic education for young people and also left a strong digital footprint for other entities to join the initiative – so much so that Microsoft, the owner of Minecraft, and the non-profit are now working together to transform the world of Build the Vote into a permanent free educational lesson inside Microsoft’s educational version of the game: Minecraft: Education Edition (2M+ licensed schools and organizations worldwide). The Build the Vote lesson will be launched at the start of the 2021 school year. The evolving nature of the lesson will allow any teacher to customize the world to represent the political landscape of their state or the country.
GOODBY SILVERSTEIN & PARTNERS, San Francisco
2017, ROCK THE VOTE
CREATIVE JUICE G1 (TBWA), Bangkok
2008, THAI HEALTH PROMOTION FOUNDATION
COLLABORATE, San Francisco
2001, ROCK THE VOTE