A new voter registration group promises to leave young voters satisfied on election night – regardless of the outcome of the presidential race.
Votergasm.org, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, is taking a “different kind of get-out-the-vote approach,” said Michelle Collins, co-founder of Votergasm.com. Her organization encourages voters to sign a pledge to have sex on election night with another voter. “When we look at the statistics there is a distinct trend that fewer young people voted in the last election, and even fewer people had sex that night,” she said.
Operating out of Brooklyn, N.Y., since Sept. 4, the Web campaign is an attempt to send 100,000 first-time youth voters to the polls for the November election and “catalyze” 250,000 orgasms.
The Web site, founded by nine graduates of Columbia University, Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has already received five million hits and 17,000 pledges.
Potential voters can go to the site and take a pledge to “have sex with a voter on election night, and withhold sex from non-voters.”
The site also serves as a forum for Votergasm participants to post election night parties in order to fulfill the pledge. There are already two postings for D.C., including one at an apartment in Adams Morgan and a request for a gay party in Dupont Circle. Presumably, voters can head to the party after voting, and if all goes well, they’ll leave with a little more than a sense of civic pride.
Scott, a 22-year-old local Votergasm pledge who posted a party on election night for the gay community in Dupont, said the approach could be attractive to young voters because of its novelty in the political realm.
“I think it will be effective to get a higher turnout,” said Scott, who requested that his last name not be published. “Sex sells just about everything else out there, why not use it to promote something beneficial?”
Scott said he has not received many responses to his party posting on Votergasm’s forum, and his posting was more of an experiment to see the reaction of the D.C. gay community.
“I did it because there wasn’t really a gay space on (Votergasm’s site),” he said. “I don’t think there is potential to actually have a party.”
Collins said there have already been more than 100 parties planned across the country for election night and that they will serve as the “climax of the Votergasm experience.”
The organization is specifically targeting youth involvement in swing states, canvassing a “Sex for Voters” ad campaign in college newspapers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, Michigan, Iowa and Missouri.
Collins said young voters in these states are especially vital because the candidate who wins their votes could be the winner.
While Collins said “people have been turned on by the idea,” Votergasm has become a controversial approach to youth voting registration and has recently received a lot of negative feedback, including hate mail sent to the headquarters.
Conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh denounced the Web campaign in a Sept. 28 radio broadcast, accusing the organization of “selling sex for votes.” Ignoring its non-partisan label, Limbaugh criticized Votergasm for its alleged support of Democratic candidate John Kerry. He encouraged listeners to leave messages on Votergasm.com reading, “I knew I’d get screwed voting for Kerry. I love your site.”
Collins said she and her crew “rejoiced” at Limbaugh’s broadcast because they believe that “any publicity is good publicity.”
“We think he would be a great candidate for Votergasm if he would open his mind and his heart,” she said, referring to Limbaugh.
Collins said Votergasm has received large amounts of positive media coverage, including a story by MTV, an article in The Washington Post and coverage by dozens of campus newspapers.
While Votergasm founders had planned to throw an outreach party in D.C. in upcoming weeks, they had to cancel due to time constraints. As a result, the movement has yet to reach the GW campus.
Collins said, “We would highly encourage GW students to participate civically and sexually on November 2.”