Low voter turnout has always been a problem in the United States, especially in midterm elections when only roughly 40 percent of the population turns up to the polls. Those numbers are even more depressing among young voters—according to census data, a mere 23 percent of eligible 18- to 34-year-olds showed up to vote in the 2014 midterms. With so much at stake in the upcoming election on November 6, early evidence including a recently released Harvard University poll suggests that youth voter turnout could reach record highs.
That might be cause for cautious optimism, but more than a few voices are calling for more concrete action to protect the democratic process. One of them happens to be Blue Point Brewing Company, which released a limited-edition IPA called Voters’ Day Off. The red, white and blue cans include a line on the back where consumers can leave a signature as part of a petition to make Election Day a federal holiday. To make their point, the brewery hauled a literal boatload of 2,500 signed cans to Washington D.C. and parked it outside of Congress. In addition to the cans, the company has already gathered more than 9,200 digital signatures towards the cause on a Change.org petition. Blue Point has also pledged to give their own employees the day off in order to vote.
“As an American brewery, we understand the importance of democracy and feel that nothing should stop voters from making it to the polls,” says Jenna Lally, Blue Point President. “When we learned about the amount of voting eligible Americans that didn’t make it to the polls last midterm elections due to work, we decided to step up and lead by example.”
In 2014, a Pew Research Center post-election survey found that 35 percent of participants had not voted because of work or school conflicts. Lally says that a number of customers have shared their own reasons on Blue Point’s social media pages. A commuter living in Long Island did not have time to cast a ballot and catch the train home in order to feed their children, while a registered nurse working double shifts at the hospital simply could not squeeze it into their schedule.
“Growing up, my father worked two jobs and went to school at night. For a father of four, it was nearly impossible to make it to the polls and perform his civic duty,” Lally says. “This isn’t something unique to me. It affects many Americans and I want them to know that Blue Point not only hears them and supports them but we are also trying to rally Congress to make this change by using our voice and our beer.”
Up until this point, there has been no indication that Congress is taking the mounting pile of signatures and cans into account. The Voters’ Day Off IPA had a limited release, so virtually all of the cans collected were from New York residents who swung by Blue Point’s taproom or one of their special events. Still, the initiative has helped highlight how crucial this upcoming election is. So get out there and VOTE.