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January 23, 2017

Start-Up Seeks to Increase Millennial Turnout in Aldermanic Race

A University of Chicago graduate’s company plans to work to increase millennial turnout in the upcoming special election for the Fourth Ward alderman seat.  

Tuesday Strategies aims to increase the involvement of millennials in current politics using online platforms and social media posts. Shola Farber, a co-founder of Tuesday Strategies and a 2012 UChicago graduate, says that the impact that millennials could have by becoming politically active cannot be underestimated.

“We want to show young people that they have a voice and can impact the community where they live,” Farber said. She said that especially in local elections, which are often belittled and largely ignored, millennials could become a force in appointing leaders who will benefit their community.

The co-founders of Tuesday Strategies believe that today’s typical political campaigns and advertisements are not sufficient to spark the interest of young individuals. The creation of Tuesday Strategies was a direct reaction to what that Farber and her co-founders saw while working on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. During her time as a regional director on the campaign in Michigan, Farber said that she saw “day in and day out” that the campaign consistently failed to reach younger people. 

“We were contacting people on landlines, and by knocking on doors, and you’re never going to reach someone under the age of 30 by calling a landline,” Farber said. “We think that we can be more effective by taking the traditional organization methods and putting them in the digital space for the largest generation around in America today—millennials.”

According to a statement released by the company, about 43 percent of millennials have turned out for presidential elections since 2008, but only 18 percent have voted in midterms. The low midterm turnout has led Tuesday Strategies to focus more on local elections, including an upcoming aldermanic election in the Fourth Ward. The Fourth Ward stretches along the lakefront from the very northern reaches of Hyde Park to the South Loop, and will be having an aldermanic election to fill a vacancy for the remaining two years of the term on February 28. 

Tuesday Strategies plans to impact the Fourth Ward Alderman race in Chicago by creating videos and distributing them online with the Fourth Ward as the target audience. In the videos, community members involved in local politics will discuss their interest in politics, the work that they do in their community, and the issues that matter to them. The video content is set to be filmed in a studio space on January 29, and the videos will be posted on Facebook in intervals throughout February.

According to the statement, while millennials have the numbers to dramatically influence the outcomes of elections, they rarely make use of their potential. “If millennial turnout was improved by a mere seven percent, four battleground states representing 75 electoral votes would have flipped blue in the 2016 presidential election,” Farber said.

“Turnout for basically every election that’s not presidential is quite low,” she said. “In the Fourth Ward, in particular, we’ve had a couple of cases in the past decade, when they’ve held special alderman’s elections, and voter turnout is really low.”

Farber hopes to communicate to Chicago’s young eligible voters that the aldermen of Chicago have significant authority. “The aldermen of Chicago have quite a bit of clout,” Farber said. “Our goal is to increase voter turnout, which could mean a couple hundred or a couple thousand people. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but it is really important.” 

In an effort to reach as many millennials as possible, Tuesday Strategies is also seeking partnerships with local youth-related organizations. Farber said that she has reached out to multiple local organizations in Chicago, including Kenwood Community Organization. She has also spoken to the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics for advice on contacting other Chicago establishments.

After the aldermanic election is over, Tuesday Strategies will be heading to Los Angeles to cover the special elections there. “There are some ballot initiatives coming up, city council seats opening up,” Farber said. “And later in the year, there are gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey.” 

While they are not currently based out of a specific location, Farber says that if Tuesday Strategies grows to the point that it makes sense to have an office in a certain place, they will take that opportunity in the future. 

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