The race to get Georgia’s 23,000 17-year-olds registered to vote
Ufot notes that Twitch streams are still a mystery to many political operatives. “We have to explain to them what Twitch is,” she says. “The idea that people will show up to watch e-sports players watch games and talk about politics—they don’t get it. But we got 500,000 unique visitors on our Twitch the Vote events!”
It’s become increasingly apparent that gaming can fold in politics and entertainment, and that it can become a platform for political power. Ufot says she’s had mobile gaming trucks at key polling locations to get the word out and has found that these trucks—where anyone can come in and play games while talking about political issues—are an excellent way to reach underserved voters, like many in the Black community.
Georgia has historically been a major target for Black voter suppression via practices like arbitrarily applying rules requiring signatures and specific marking on ballots, or creating hostile environments at polling stations, according to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity. Amid battles over such issues, however, the state has gone from predictably Republican to a tossup. One of the biggest groups addressing voter suppression is Fair Fight Action, founded on the night former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams lost her bid in 2018.
Ufot’s New Georgia Project works closely with Fair Fight Action and says the group has built its own technology to make sure Black voters, no matter their age, feel safe voting. For example, the group’s app includes an SOS button where a voter can record threats of violence. GPS coordinates are then sent to the New Georgia Project, which can trace which polling station is problematic.
The project is now focused on reaching Georgia’s valuable 18-year-olds: “We’re dropping in on Zoom high school government classes. We’re doing more Twitch the Vote events. We’re going to graduations at the end of the semester.” And is it working? “Yesterday, we came in at just under 1,000 new voters,” she says.