By Will Roper
Oct. 9, 2018
With less than one month until the pivotal November elections, a group of local activists, musicians and speakers are looking to boost voter turnout and spread the word about the importance of registering to vote.
On Thursday, the steps of the state capitol building will be the venue for the Vote for Change Rally to encourage people to register and vote in the upcoming November elections. The rally, as described on the event page, will be non-partisan, and will feature prominent performers and speakers from 4-7 p.m on the northside Capitol steps.
Musicians slated to perform are Kris Lager, Matt Cox, Hector Anchondo, Brad Hoshaw, Dominique Morgan, Gerardo Meza, Emily Bass, Sebastian Lane, Brian Gerkensmeyer, Jack Osborn, Brady Wells, Sleep Sinatra and Aly Peeler. Each musician will have time for one song of their choice.
Mixed in with the performers are political and community speakers, of whom include Paul Theobald, Spencer Danner, Ishma Valenti, Rick Galusha, Melissa Baker, Tonya Ward, Louis Braatz and Ken Winston.
Lancaster County had about 25 percent turnout in the May primaries and currently has around 186,000 registered voters.
According to Kris Lager, who has been one of the main organizers for the Vote for Change Rally, the event is all about encouraging and amplifying the voice of the people to use their power to vote this coming November.
“If more people voted, politics would be more ‘for the people’,” Lager said. “That’s my goal – just get people involved and registered.”
Every performer or speaker at the upcoming rally, Lager said, was either recruited by him or volunteered their services to encourage voter registration. He said he called up as many musicians as he knew who may be interested in performing, and after word got out about the rally, political candidates like Paul Theobald and Spencer Danner asked to speak on the importance of voting themselves.
Lager said the organizers are stressing that the Vote for Change Rally is a non-partisan voter registration event, with the main message throughout the rally being how close many elections turn out to be.
“Every vote does matter,” Lager said. “If we just talk to 10 people each, they’ll talk to 10 people. Word of mouth is huge. I believe democracy works, but it only works if everybody does their part.”
One of the musicians performing for the rally is Dominique Morgan. Winner of the 2018 Omaha Entertainment & Arts Award for Best R&B, Morgan said he saw the event as a perfect opportunity to spread a positive message through music — something he’s been doing for a very long time. As a musician, community activist and director of the national prison abolitionist group Black and Pink, Morgan said performing for a cause as good as voter registration was perfect for him.
“I’m not the type of person to stand by the side in a game – I’m going to be a player in the game,” he said. “Registering and voting makes you a player in the game.”
Morgan plans to perform the song “Stand Up,” as a duet with Peeler. Morgan said the song is about being OK with falling down and having bad days, as long as you continue to take the time and get back up after being knocked down. As a community, he said, that’s where we have to be as a society.
“We’re stronger together, and we can make change together,” Morgan said.
Besides encouraging people to vote this November, Lager said he hopes people can come to the rally and connect with what the musicians and speakers have to offer. Whether it’s keeping in touch with a local musician in terms of their music and politics or voting for one of the speakers, he said another goal of the event is helping people reach out to one another. However, registering to vote, he said, is the priority.
“Ultimately, everyone will just register to vote or encourage family and friends to do the same,” Lager said.
Voting in Nebraska:
- Oct. 19, 2018, 5 p.m.: Online voter registration deadline and mail-in postmark deadline
- Oct. 26, 2018, 6 p.m.: In-person registration deadline (find your election office)
- Oct. 26, 2018: Deadline for requesting Absentee Ballot
- Nov. 6, 2018: Election Day (and Absentee Ballot deadline)(Find your polling place)
For more on voting in Nebraska, visit rockthevote.com
Will Roper is an editorial intern with KZUM.