The ACLU has partnered with local artists to create public murals across Michigan to increase voter participation in the upcoming general election on Nov. 3. Eight murals have been commissioned and they will appear in six different Michigan cities to engage voters about new voting rights, including the opportunity for all to vote early, by mail or at their poll on election day.
The first three of these murals were unveiled late last month in Detroit and Flint. The public art campaign is a partnership between the ACLU and a coalition of over 100 partners across the state. The murals are being created in collaboration with 1xRun, a Detroit-based gallery and arts publisher.
"Partnering with such talented muralists is one of the many creative ways we hope to engage all eligible voters about their new voting rights," said Sharon Dolente, ACLU of Michigan voting rights strategist. "Voting in Michigan has never been easier, but many may not know they have the right to vote in-person starting Sept. 24 at their city or township clerk's office, the right to vote by mail and to register to vote up to and on election day. Our goal is to increase the voices being heard at the ballot box, and the mural project is a powerful and fun way to do it."
While each mural is based on the central theme of the ACLU's mission to increase voter turnout by educating all eligible voters about mail-in and in-person early voting options, the artists were encouraged to create unique works in their respective cities to inspire public conversation and increase community and civic awareness that will last beyond one election.
In addition to Detroit and Flint, murals are in the process of going up in Benton Harbor, Highland Park, Grand Rapids and Pontiac. The locations were chosen for maximum engagement with potential voters and to drive increased participation among millennials and communities of color.
Artists creating murals include Sheefy McFly, who will be working in Flint; Ndubisi Okoye, who created a Detroit mural on the ACLU office; Phil Simpson, who will be working in Detroit on Livernois; Freddy Diaz, who will be working in Detroit on Joy Road; Tony WHLGN, who will be working in Highland Park; Jesse Kassel, who will be working in Benton Harbor; Rick Williams, who will be working in Pontiac; and Ann Lewis, who will be working in Grand Rapids.
"In the work we've been doing as organizers with artists over the years, we've seen the transformative power that public murals have to activate new conversations and build a sense of community, to get people invested and involved," said Roula David, vice president of 1xRUN and the founder and executive director of the annual Murals in the Market'festival in Detroit. "It's a natural extension of our work to focus the drive and creativity of artists to push forward the ACLU's mission to make sure that voters across Michigan are able to make their voices heard in this election."
The ACLU is also recruiting poll workers, and training volunteers for voter outreach and voting rights education, and operating an election protection hotline for voters with questions or concerns. The election protection hotline – 866-OUR-VOTE – is staffed by trained legal professionals from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. Weekend hours will be added as the election grows nearer.