Reinvigorating a Culture of Voting

Joy of Voting

Parades, street theatre, open-air debates, and festivals – these were once part of America’s culture of voting and it’s time to revive them. With the support of the Knight Foundation, we’re partnering with artists, activists, designers, and citizens in cities around the country to launch initiatives to create creative, communal experiences and rituals around local voting.

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Projects & Events

Deriving its vision from an article in The Atlantic written by Eric Liu, Citizen University has launched initiatives in seven cities where Knight invests to generate creative celebrations and joyful public rituals that encourage people to vote.

Citizen University piloted the program in four cities for the November 2016 general election, and in three more for local elections in 2017. Projects included independent art exhibits, block parties, community-based theater, interactive apps, and other citizen-generated activities centered around engaging peers.

Joy of Voting continues in 2018 in four other cities around the country hosting local and midterm elections. These experiments will serve as models of what a vibrant, participatory culture of voting could look like. Follow this project, and share your own ideas via Twitter using the hashtag #JoyOfVoting.

Learn more about past projects:

2016 projects 

2017 Projects


JUST ADDED! Photos from 2018 events here.

Check out photos from our 2017 projects here.

Check out photos from our 2016 projects here.








This year the Joy of Voting project will be taking place in four cities around the country.

Projects have kicked-off in Akron, Charlotte, Grand Forks, and West Palm Beach!


The North Hill Diversity and Freedom Mural Project, led by Asian Services in Akron, invites individuals of all ethnic and religious backgrounds to help create a mural representing a diverse neighborhood and the freedom that voting provides to communities of color.

The Big Love Network will build excitement around voting with a two step approach: first instigating a parade for youths and musicians to spread the word about registration and voting, and then following up with a “Souls to the Polls” Party where voters can be educated about issues and action items.

MA’Sue Productions’ “Street Theatre Attack” will stage a game show around town, asking Akronians “Who wants to vote?!” Look for them around town while you are out and and about! 

Wandering Aesthetics will host the debate of the century — a battle royale for the heart of democracy. The hour-long debates will show-off a range of comedic techniques — from slapstick to clowning — to engage viewers and build conversation around a central question: “Should I vote?” The debates will take place once a week in the month leading up to the November mid-term elections, starting on October 6th at the Electric Pressure Cooker Cabaret.

Members of the W.O.M.B. community garden invites community members to join them for food, music, art, and storytelling in the garden! Activities will include cooking demonstrations, Expression Lounge/Open mic opportunities, and the creation of a large cross stitch mural.


The Southeast Asian Coalition’s (SEAC) characteristic “turn up” style party will take place near the city’s early voting sites. Come turn-up with Viet coffee and Thai tea, then learn all about local candidates political issues from SEAC members. The event will focus on educating and engaging Meckenburg County’s Southeast Asian voters.

The 49er Democracy Experience’s Get-Out-the-Student-Vote-Festival seeks to attract, educate, and involve the UNCC student body. While festival-goers enjoy food, games, and musical performances from UNCC groups, local government officials and candidates will be in attendance to chat and answer questions

Hannah Hasan and her group Epoch Tribe will host a “We The People” open mic night that celebrates voting through live performances that span the artistic spectrum, from visual to performance culinary — all by local creatives and all centered around the theme of civic engagement.

For its inaugural Brews & Ballots event, The Millennial Voice of Mecklenburg County invites their peers to share beers with local political candidates at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Get your card signed by five politicians and receive a complimentary beer while you get your election-related questions answered!  

Lisette Torres, Dammit Wesley, and Carlos Lebron’s community event “One Nation Under a Groove,” taking place at Charlotte’s Camp North, will feature unique pieces by local artists, simulations of voting booths for kids or new voters, a photo booth, information on the history of voting, a historically-rooted fashion show with outfits made from recycled materials — and more!  

Grand Forks

ArtNestND invites high school students to create unique “I voted” stickers. Following the open contest, organizers will select seven unique designs — one to be used at each of the seven polling locations in Grand Forks.

The Global Friends Coalition and New Flavors Food Truck will hold three events to celebrate citizenship and demonstrate the pathway toward its pinnacle: voting. Voting123, held in neighborhoods where new Americans live or go to school, will be inclusive block parties with food trucks, entertainment, and hands-on education.

Want to vote in style? Robin David’s “Party to the Polls” project will offer Grand Forks residents the opportunity to get a ride to their polling place aboard a party bus. The busses will offer snacks, activities, and a celebrity host, as well as give voters the chance to socialize and debate with co-workers before casting their ballot.

The Young Invincibles will host four large celebrations — three during early voting and one on Election Day — at polling locations around town and on the UND campus. Enjoy free food and entertainment with fellow civically-minded Grand Forkeans!

The Digital Press at UND, led by professor Eric Burin, will be soliciting, collecting, and sharing favorite voting memories from Grand Forks residents. After gathering recollections from times of yore, the Press will design unique representations for each one and add them to their publication. Look for one or two a day in the Press in the month leading up to Election Day!

West Palm Beach

Using art and entertainment from the West African tradition, Afrique Ngozi Dance & Drum’s Art in Public Places event will share materials and information about the history and importance of voting. The one-time creative spectacular will take place at CityPlace at the beginning of October.

The Boys & Girls Clubs in West Palm Beach (the Marjorie Fisher Boys & Girls Club and the Florence De George Boys & Girls Club) will each host two family fiestas before Election Day — each one featuring catered meals, DJs and entertainment, mock election games,  an “ I CAN VOTE! “ selfie studio, an interactive presentation on the voting process, and gift raffles.

Red, White, and Bowl,” hosted by Comic Cure, is a family-friendly series of three events that promote participation in the midterm elections by  informing and empowering registered voters. Prizes and trophies will be awarded both to bowling champions and to skee-ball extraordinaires, and an election-themed “Trivia Bowl” will round out the day!

Jumping jacks! The Flamingo Clay Studio will create jumping jack puppets (two-times life-size!) to spread the word about registering to vote and voting on Election Day! The jumping jacks will make friends with their neighbors, throw parties, and make sure that party-goers vote, so look for them around town in the lead-up to the midterm elections!

The Palm Beach County Youth Foundation invites you to enjoy their endor-able show as they elect our first Ewok president! The event will feature a mock election with Ewok and Twi’lek voters, a candidate stump speech, diverse costumes, and Jawas at the ready for big trades with big voters.

Community activist Claudia Mendoza introduces Zumbaton: a gathering of over 200 people exercising, dancing, and promoting civic engagement! Attendees will receive t-shirts with important messages so that the dancers behind them can learn while they exercise. The event will be a space for the Hispanic community to come together and make their voices heard with others who want to engage with the local elections.

Check back soon for updates on event dates and locations!

These teams are bringing an active, joyful, participatory culture back to voting! Check back for more details.


St. Paul


Improv Comedy Mayoral Forum

The Theater of Public Policy 

Join the Theater of Public Policy for a night of laughter and levity as the leading mayoral candidates answer questions and have their answers brought to life through unscripted improv comedy! The team will host “A St. Paul Mayoral Forum for the Rest of Us” on November 3rd at the North Garden Theater. Info here!


Wag the Vote

Arty Bark Park 

Politics gone to the Dogs? Unleash democracy with Wag the Vote, a canine convergence to get out the vote to dog lovers all over St. Paul! Follow them on Facebook or Twitter to stay up-to-date with all their latest barks, and check out their website for the full story!


I Vote Because . . .

Concordia University St. Paul 

Using conversation and photography, CSP College Students want to inspire their community to vote. Look for CSP students at light rail transit stations to share why YOU vote on a custom banner that says “I vote because  ____________.”


Street Puppet Theater

Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop 

Look out for Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop on the streets of St. Paul while they spread the word through unique performances by their hand-crafted puppets! You find at the West Side Dia de los Muertos Celebration 2017 and other locations around town!




Get Out the Vote Parties

New Florida Majority Education Fund

The New Florida Majority will host GOTV parties during the early voting period (October 28 – Novemver 5) in West Coconut Grove, Little Havana, Allapattah, Liberty City, and Little Haiti. Stop by to cast your vote and enjoy a lively gathering with BBQ, live music, media coverage, and educational handouts. Dates, times, locations, and info here!


Inside Joke

Comic Cure 

Inside Joke with Host Billy Corben is a monthly late-night style entertainment show that humorously highlights important local issues and community change-makers in Miami. Filmed in font of a live audience, the show features interviews with local politicians and civic activists, with performances by local artists. Comic Cure hosted their hilarious premier episode on November 17th! You can see photos from the event on their Facebook page.


Fall Harvest Party to the Polls

Engage Miami 

Hay rides and apple cider in Miami?!? That’s right!  Engage Miami’s fall harvest-themed party will feature live music, food, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, bobbing for apples, and mock elections for best costumes, best pumpkin carving, and more! Join them November 4th in Kennedy Park for a celebration of fall before heading to early vote. Event details here.


305 Yard Sign Project

Miami Dade College  

So over divisive political yard signs? The 305 Yard Sign Project will use art to promote positive, values-driven civic engagement using colorful, personlized yard signs designed by local artists and students.


Your Ballot, Explained

The Plantain 

The Plantain, Miami’s satire news source, is making a comedy news video focused on voting rights restoration for ex-felons, an initiative on this fall’s ballot. Keep a look out for the video to be released later this month!




PopUp Celebration Station

League of Creative Interventionists  

Ever dreamed of winning an election with a crowd cheering you on? With the pop-up Voting Celebration Station, you get to experience the joy of “winning the vote” on stage, with a crowd cheering your name and a microphone for you to share your own victory speech. Find the Pop Up Station at McAdams Neighborhood Freedom Fair on November 4th!


Canine Candidates

Sara Dixon & Stephanie Huff   

Canine Candidates tackle issues ICT dogs face: from the new dog park to pesky squirrels. Vote on the pup with the passion to improve this city! Get the low-down on all the candidates and where you can find them here!


Breaking the Ballot

First Gen Woes 

Add your narrative to this community conversation! First Gen Woes will host a spoken word contest for high school students at Mead’s Corner coffee shop downtown. Register here!


Sizzle and Soapbox

Episcopal Social Services 

Let your voice be heard with a sizzle at the soapbox series this fall! ESS invites neighbors, activists, and public officials to get join their Soap Box series and share their thoughts around this year’s local elections. They will also host a voter registration poster contest to put the sizzle back into voting.



KMUW 89.1 FM  

KMUW will work with local artists to create a series of ‘VoteICT’ wearable stickers. Get yours at a polling place or another Joy of Voting event, and show your local pride around this year’s municipal elections by sporting your unique ICT-specific sticker. Learn more.