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Rock the Vote eyes 200,000 new voter registrations with virtual initiative

Rock the Vote eyes 200,000 new voter registrations with virtual initiative
© Greg Nash

Rock the Vote is launching a summer initiative to register 200,000 new voters as the coronavirus pandemic thrusts uncertainty over turnout ahead of the November elections. 

The effort, dubbed “Democracy Summer," is set to feature online trainings, campaigns and events to register voters and particularly mobilize young people, who tend to turn out at lower rates compared to members of other age groups.

The effort’s kickoff event will take place on June 18 at an event put on by the producers of Coachella.

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Rock the Vote, which casts itself as a nonpartisan organization, said it is partnering up with a coalition including Voto Latino and When We All Vote, among others. 

"This is truly unique," Carolyn DeWitt, executive director of Rock The Vote, told CNN, which was the first to report on the effort. "You don't usually have organizations at this level — three major players in the youth civic engagement space — recognizing the urgency of this moment and seeing real value in coming together." 

Rock the Vote is also teaming up with Influential, a tech platform that taps into a network of celebrities and influencers in pop culture and social media to promote brands. Influential will call on celebrities, Youtubers, TikTokers and more to encourage people to vote.

"That's what will be so beautiful about this effort," DeWitt said. "It really is bringing not just all the nonprofit groups together, but all the trusted messengers that impact how [young] people see the issues and who they see in their day to day lives."

The effort comes as the coronavirus pandemic thrusts voter turnout into the spotlight, with voting rights advocates urging the government to expand mail-in voting to try to maintain turnout and allow voters to both cast their ballots and protect their health. 

Younger voters have been the targets of a years-long effort, especially by Democrats, to boost turnout, particularly after voters aged 18-29 made up only a combined 19 percent of the electorate in 2016.