What makes people excited to register to vote? Perhaps, ice cream.
And so, the Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco and the Edwin M. Lee Asian Pacific Democratic Club organized “Scoop the Vote,” an event to raise awareness around the importance of registering to vote and civic engagement.
To get people to register to vote, especially younger people, before the Oct. 22 deadline, the museum’s employees, clad in pink, rallied in front of the museum entrance to get people excited about signing up to vote if they haven’t already done so.
Mayor London Breed, who today launched “Opportunities for All,” an initiative providing job opportunities for all High School students in San Francisco, also made an appearance at the museum.
Breed told the small crowd:
“The young people between the ages of 18 and 29 that are eligible to vote [but] half don’t even register. And then what happens is that the things that you care about the most aren’t prioritized. You have to make sure that your voices are heard. And most people think: ‘Well, you know, my vote doesn’t count, I’m only one person.’ As someone who has been in really close elections, trust me: every vote matters.”
“When we need to clean up our streets, when we need to address issues around homelessness, when we need to deal with our educational system, all of those things happen when you make decisions at the polls … So today is an opportunity to get people excited about voting.”
Selina Sun, 27, president of the Edwin M. Lee Asian Pacific Democratic Club, said that the club partnered with the museum as it is focused on engaging the community and continuing the late Mayor Ed Lee’s legacy of public service and activism.
Sun told SFBay:
“I think a lot of millennials find it difficult to find ways to connect with the world of politics and civic engagement because there might not be a lot of people trying to engage that voice in certain ways. And at a local level, we can partner with [groups] like the Museum of Ice Cream, which millennials are excited [about], … to get people more civically engaged.”
The young Museum of Ice Cream employees danced to Bruno Mars’s “Finesse,” blaring from the speakers put outside. Squeezed in front of the museum’s entrance at Grant Avenue, most onlookers peeked at the pink crowd as they walked passed them, not heeding much interest at the event.
According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout. “Nearly 56% of the U.S. voting-age population cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election,” according to the Pew Research Center.
According to San Francisco’s Department of Elections, turnout for the 2016 general election topped 80 percent in San Francisco.
Manish Vora, co-founder of the Museum of Ice Cream, told SFBay:
“ … Even though we’re a company, we have a responsibility to stand for what we believe in and [voting] is something that is so critical — voting is a critical component of being an American and representing our Democracy.”
“ … We do have an opportunity because we have such a young audience across the country to speak to them and make sure they’re reminded that we’re behind them, that we want to give them [the] opportunity to register and to vote and have their voices heard.”
Lisa Dea, 33, who attended the event, said she immediately registered to vote when she turned 18:
“Knowing that it can affect you, your family, your friends and so much more than just one person, you have to go out and voice your opinion. You can’t just sit back and say, ‘I think somebody else will do the right thing; they’ll vote …’”
Equipped with voter registration forms, employees hit the streets. Also with them, Museum of Ice Cream’s ice cream scoops to hand out to people. They approached folks and encouraged them to sign up and vote. But downtown San Francisco at rush-hour featured more folks rushing somewhere, too busy to even stop for the employees in pink.
Katharine Hsiao, 58, and Rachel Chock, 27, volunteers for the Museum of Ice Cream, also took to the streets in hopes of getting folks registered to vote. When SFBay approached them, they had signed up two people thus far.
Hsiao, a retired attorney, said:
“[There] nothing more important to our democracy than that people get out and vote. I especially wanted to support getting young people to sign up and vote.”
The Museum of Ice Cream, for the next four days, will assist people with registering to vote at its Pint Shop, “a free standing retail shop that is open to the public” and doesn’t require a ticket.
“I think at some point people do need to get involved. We are the next generation of leaders, which means we’re going to lead the economy; we’re going to lead taking care of the environment; we’re going to lead in creating policy and building community. And so why start 10-years from now? Why not just start now and just get involved as soon as you can?”