Unprecedented coalition led by largest Jewish student organization to engage 100,000 voters on more than 100 college campuses in time for midterms; campaign launching with celebrity video congratulating student on her first vote
WASHINGTON – Four years after 18 to 20-year-olds set a record low turnout at the polls, student leaders at Hillel International today launched MitzVote, a non-partisan campaign to register and engage 100,000 voters on more than 100 college campuses across the United States. The campaign is launching with a social media video featuring celebrity actors congratulating a student on her first “MitzVote”.
The goal of the initiative is to create a simcha, a Hebrew word for celebration, of participating in the democratic process, giving college students an opportunity to become engaged citizens in the way that b’nai mitzvot recognizes young Jews as an adult in the Jewish community.
“Long before American democracy was born, Jews have been celebrating their b’nai mitzvot,” said Sheila Katz, vice president for student engagement and leadership at Hillel International. “This campaign is creating a meaningful coming-of-age experience for all Americans who turn 18 and are eligible to vote. Hillel, with affiliates on more than 500 campuses, is well positioned to support student efforts to introduce this fun new ritual to voters of all backgrounds.”
To develop and promote the campaign, Hillel International worked with Mik Moore (co-creator of 2008’s The Great Schlep with Sarah Silverman) to produce a video, Today You Are A… Voter. Featuring popular actors and comedians, including Joshua Malina, Lisa Edelstein, Odeya Rush, Michael Ian Black, Tim Meadows and HQ Trivia host Scott Rogowsky, it mimics a bat mitzvah “mazel tov” video, with friends and family congratulating Hannah, a typical college first-year student, on her MitzVote.
“Jews become adults in the eyes of the Jewish community at 13, but as Americans we come of age at 18, when we gain the right to vote,” said Jeremy Cronig, a Hillel student leader at The Ohio State University. “Yet there is no ritual to consecrate what we believe is an obligation of citizenship and no simcha to celebrate this act of patriotism and civic participation.”
The non-partisan campaign has already attracted an unprecedented coalition that includes every major Jewish fraternity and sorority, along with an all-star lineup of national Jewish religious and civic organizations.
“As the world first and largest Jewish fraternity, ZBT has a long history of engaging our brothers in efforts to develop individuals into responsible, mature members of society,” said Laurence Bolotin, Chief Executive Officer of Zeta Beta Tau. “Becoming a voter and an engaged citizen is critical to that process, and we are proud to partner with Hillel to encourage students to celebrate their MitzVote this year.”
The video is available across social media platforms and on the MitzVote website, where students can sign up for text alerts about voting, find their polling place, research the races and ballot initiatives on their local ballots and find a Poll Party through #VoteTogether. They’ll also be able to register to vote through Democracy Works, which will print and mail in forms as needed to ensure students complete their registration by removing these barriers.
Campus Hillel student ambassadors will have access to a toolkit to help them create a campus plan, form or join campus Get Out the Vote (GOTV) coalitions and host at least one Poll Party – actual parties at the poll while voters stand in line, which are proven to increase turnout for young voters seeking an Instagram-able moment.
MitzVote partners will encourage their networks to register to vote and show up to vote.
Learn more at https://www.mitz.vote/
Campus Hillels that have already signed on to participate in MitzVote include:
Founded in 1923, Hillel has been enriching the lives of Jewish students for more than 90 years. Today, Hillel International is a global organization that welcomes students of all backgrounds and fosters an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. Hillel is dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. As the largest Jewish student organization in the world, Hillel builds connections with emerging adults at more than 550 colleges and universities, and inspires them to direct their own path. During their formative college years, students are challenged to explore, experience, and create vibrant Jewish lives.