2016 Grants Challenge

#VoteTogether: Let's Use Music, Food, and Art to Make Voting a Moment of Community Celebration

Idea by Civic Nation

Let's Use Music, Food, and Art to Make Voting a Moment of Community Celebration


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

Columbia University Professor Donald P. Green

Please describe your project proposal.

We propose using food, music, and art to make voting a community-driven moment of celebration, and improve voter participation in Los Angeles. Building on successful research by Columbia Professor Don Green, Civic Nation will expand a pilot program we began in 2016. We will engage with community partners in Los Angeles to stage events at voting locations and study the results to measure the impact on voter participation.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your proposal impact?​

Cultural events

Public/open streets gatherings

Voting rates

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to CONNECT?

Voter participation is the cornerstone of America’s democracy. We believe that should be celebrated within communities. So we are proposing an expansion of a successful pilot program that uses music, food, and art to make voting a community-driven moment of celebration because Los Angeles a hub of art and culture, and because LA2050 has a goal for Los Angeles to lead the nation in voter participation rates. In addition, we will test the program through a random control trial so that we can accurately measure our impact.

In 2005 and 2006, Professor Green, then at Yale University, and Professors Elizabeth M. Addonizio and James M. Glaser, of Yale and Tufts University, respectively, conducted a study on the quantitative effects of voting as a social engagement. They implemented an experiment in the form of fourteen Election Day Poll Parties in communities across the nation. Each community was engaged to help plan, and then invited to attend, a local, all-ages voting event including food and family-friendly entertainment. These Election Day events saw a rise of 6.5% voter participation in areas with high levels of voter participation, and a rise of 2.6% in areas with low levels of voter participation.

Civic Nation is in the process of executing a similar experiment in 2016. To expand the experiment and post-pilot the successful results in Los Angeles in 2017, we will take the following steps:

1) Engage, and partner with, non-partisan community groups in Los Angeles to choose 20 viable experiment sites--early vote or Election Day polling locations that do not pose physical barriers such as safety or accessibility issues, inadequate space or parking, etc.

2) In coordination with those local groups we will seek all the proper permissions to hold the event from elections boards, municipal entities and the proprietors of the locations themselves (such as libraries, fire houses etc.)

3) Once we have permissions for 20 viable sites, Professor Green will randomly select 10 to be the treatment sites (where events will be held) and 10 to be the control sites (where no events will be held).

4) Then we will engage with each of the communities to create events that match the personality and preferences of those neighborhoods through food, music, art and other elements. And we will work with our local partners to ensure robust communication about the events.

Our project will adhere to all legal guidelines and restrictions: The events will be open to all, regardless of whether individuals vote or have voted. Also, nothing in the events will advocate on behalf of any candidate or party. This includes within speakers’ remarks, materials, etc.

Through this pilot project expansion we will offer Angelenos a way to vote that is community-driven, celebratory, creative, and collaborative. By conducting the effort as a random control trial, we will learn more about effective strategies to improve voter participation in Los Angeles.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Following the election, Professor Green will conduct the statistical analysis based on the precinct-level turnout data in our control and treatment sites. Through his analysis we will learn the impact of the events on voter participation. The report and analysis would also look at down ballot voting and the research would be submitted for Institutional Review Board approval.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?



Advisors/board members



Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support