Leadership Academy – Week 8: Your Vote Matters (Sonia Romero)
For this week’s civic leadership workshop, our session was hosted by the Los Angeles City Clerk Election Division’s offices. Our morning started off with a bang with a tour of the Election Division. When you first walk into the room, it seems rather empty. This is because during the “off-season,” the Election Division only has around 20 employees. When it approaches election season, the office needs to be able to accommodate up to 200 people! After touring the office space, we got to see the large storage rooms where they keep the voting materials and tally the votes. As someone who has worked as a precinct official, it was interesting to see all of the “behind the scenes” work that goes into preparing a precinct, counting the votes, breaking down materials, etc. In reality, this is probably where the bulk of the work lies on Election Day.
After our tour, we moved on to a panel on “Voting Rights & Representation.” The speakers included Horacio Arroyo, Project Coordinator at the Los Angeles City Clerk Election Division; Dan Vicuna, National Redistricting Manager at Common Cause; and Maclen Zilber, Partner at Jacobson & Zilber Strategies. During this session, we discussed important topics such as what keeps people from voting vs. what encourages people to vote. One insight that Mac provided which was especially interesting, is that “Social Pressure Direct Mail” is the most effective way to get people to vote. By sending people mail that signals that everyone else in their community votes, the chances of voting increases by up to 7%. It’s interesting that most voter-registration campaigns focus more on why it’s important to voice your opinion—“your vote matters”—rather than using this idea of social pressure as a technique. It would be interesting to see a voting campaign centered around the social pressures and civic duties of voting.
During our lunch session, we heard from two more speakers: Dean Logan, Registrar of Los Angeles County and Aaron Nevarez, Governmental and Legislative Affairs Division Manager of Los Angeles County. Dean and Aaron spoke at length about the new voting redesign project that the LA County has put into place to make voting easier and more accessible. To accomplish this goal, the LA County outsourced consulting from a design thinking firm called IDEO out in San Francisco. IDEO specializes in a new style of design called “the human centered approach to Design Thinking.” Because of my friends, I was pretty heavily involved in Design Thinking when I was in high-school, so it was so cool to see the Design Thinking process used on something as important as the LA Voting system. Further, I was incredibly impressed that the LA County had such a progressive vision to allocate money for third-party research and development for this massive problem they were taking on. This partnership between the public and private sector seemed to be incredibly successful and is something I hope to see more and more in the future.
Finally, we had our leadership workshop led by Ron Wong, President & Founder of Imprenta Communications Group. The topic of this workshop was “Personal Branding.” We discussed a lot about story-telling and how to “sell, position, and package” a story to your advantage. Ron provided a lot of useful insight on how to create a personal image that I am sure I can take with me throughout my future!
This week’s workshop was incredibly insightful and refreshing because it was so closely related to our final group project—a voter resource guide. It’s crazy to think that this was one of our last civic leadership workshops, but I am excited to finish them off with a BANG!