change • VOLITVE 2022: Design challenge
How did we get more young people to vote?
Concept, Research, Information Design, Design Sprint, Graphic Design
In the spring of 2022, parliamentary elections were held in Slovenia. After two years of the health crisis due to the Covid-19 epidemic, on the verge of a global economic collapse, and witnessing democratic backsliding under the government in charge, it was more important than ever to choose wisely who will be the ones to lead the country in the coming years.
In January 2022, we launched a design challenge open call inviting creatives who want to take action and increase voter turnout. We proposed a 3-day educational design sprint, during which a group of young creatives and sociologists would conceive an idea for a project and a 1-month period for implementing that idea. We have received a bunch of excellent applications from which it was difficult to choose only a few. In the end, we have decided to form a group of eight participants coming from the fields of graphic design, information design, UX&UI design, video, architecture, sociology, and political science.
At the end of February 2022, the design challenge started. Our guest experts - Taj Zavodnik from Focus Association for Sustainable Development and MZPP; Alenka Kreč Bricelj and Mojca Lukan from The 8th March Institute; and Tadej Štrok from Today is a new day - kicked it off with illuminating lectures about the climate crisis and how to address it, the organization of successful activist campaigns, and designing engaging, informative digital actions. An intense design sprint followed. After analyzing the expert's input, pointing out all the reasons why people don’t vote, identifying all the pain points in the pre-election process and inconveniences during the elections, doing online research, and having in-depth discussions, the group came to these main conclusions: 
  • a positive, funny approach would probably be more successful than a serious, negative tone
  • the news on politics provided by the conventional media is usually unappealing to younger generations; therefore, younger people aren’t sufficiently informed about it
  • young people often don’t know which positions individual parties stand for
The second day of the design sprint started with brainstorming. The group came up with countless interesting ideas, and as we evaluated them, it became obvious that the funniest ideas appealed to everyone the most. At the end of the brainstorming session, gamification of elections resonated with everyone, so we decided to do a project in that direction.
The battle
At the end of each week, two battles took place on Instagram between two pairs of parties. The winner of each battle was selected by public voting through Instagram stories, and the winning party would afterward qualify for the next round. The battles continued until the final winner was selected. A parallel battle was taking place on Tiktok, where we hoped to reach even younger people. To our surprise, it turned out that the results varied quite a bit - on Instagram, the most left-wing parties always won the battles, while on Tiktok, that wasn’t always the case…
Positive affirmations, astrology and merch
Under the influence of all the issues people living in Slovenia are facing, after 2 years of lockdowns and the rise of far-right movements, the spirit amongst the young generation was probably at its all-time lowest. Topping that with serious moral advice on how everyone is obliged to do something about it, would only make everything more depressing. Thus, the hilarious positive affirmations that are turning bad situations into memes, did not only make people laugh but also made them relate to these issues, share the posts among their friends, and create hype in the community about the upcoming elections.
Allegedly young generations are also very much into astrology. Therefore a whole section of content was dedicated to how that might influence the elections. The horoscope sign of every party’s leader was analyzed and presented through astrological charts and memes, so the followers could decide who has the stars on their side to lead the country in the best manner. To create an even more engaged audience, some merch was designed. Who wouldn’t want to sip their morning coffee from a cup that has their favorite politician’s face on or wear socks with inspiring positive affirmations? Yeah, we thought so…
We’re not completely sure if it was due to merch or the hilarious memes, but the project was a success. It gained more than 1.000 followers on Instagram and more than 34.500 views on Tiktok in two months and got a lot of positive feedback from the audience. The project even made it to television - one of the most popular Slovenian media, Svet on Channel A, made a detailed report on it. We don’t want to brag too much, but in the end, the turnout in the elections was 70,97 %, which is a record after the year 2000, and thanks to all the young voters who cast their votes, the centre-left party won.
And once again, we showed that design can truly change the world for the better! Joking aside, we can’t actually prove if the project changed anyone’s mind, but if it did convince even a couple of people to cast or change their vote, we see that as a success. Last but not least, we’re very pleased that we managed to bring together a bunch of enthusiastic students who formed a strong, hardworking team and hopefully got encouraged to continue working on such projects in the future.