15 Ways Museums and Historic Sites Can Support Voters this Election Season
By Made By Us + ActiVote
The Midterm Elections are here! Voting is one of the most direct ways we each can make our voices heard, in our communities and in our nation. It is core to the practice of democracy in the United States and it is a right and a duty that many people throughout history have fought to gain and to keep.
One reason we started Civic Season, held from Juneteenth to July 4th every summer and co-hosted by 300+ cultural institutions, was to offer space and resources to get informed and inspired before it’s time to cast your ballot.
Now that ~Election Season~ is here, how can we keep the momentum going and get out the vote?
Maybe you’ve had this discussion at your museum already, and thought:
🚫Outside our mission
🚫Our community doesn’t need this from us
🚫Don’t know where to start
Below, we’ve created a list of VETTED, NONPARTISAN ways you can help support voters and other people through the Midterms, no matter your particular capacity or strengths as an institution.
Feel free to circulate these resources. Have you tried any of these? What would you add?
Don’t want to stand alone in this effort? Tag @historymadebyus and @actiVoteUS so we can co-sign your efforts on social media… and brag about you to all of our friends!
Ideas and Resources for Museums in Election Season
Including a mini-toolkit for social media & newsletters!
IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT STAFF OR COLLEAGUES:
✅ Find the key election dates and deadlines for your state.
✅One for the leaders: make sure your staff have time to vote, on or before Election Day.
✅Reach out to local media outlets to let them know your organization is a resource for historical or cultural context on issues. Uplift election news stories that cite our historians, archivists, scientists and other experts!
✅ Check out how cultural organizations shared resources during Civic Season, to see what might be repurposed, imitated or amplified during elections.
✅ Put a badge or button on your website, graphics or email signature — or mount a QR code on site — to get out the vote. Grab these images to use!
IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT VOTING DIRECTLY:
✅ Prep a voter guide with historical context, key dates and rights, like Atlanta History Center.
✅ Sign up with Vote Early Day to get resources and toolkits to support early voting on Oct. 28.
✅ Share ActiVote, a nonpartisan voter resources app with tools to explore views on issues and information on elections and ballots. Revolutionary Spaces, on Boston’s Freedom Trail, recently teamed up with ActiVote to ask people what ideals should bring us together as a nation. Use this CUSTOM landing page to help people find their voter registration status and ballot items, with a history lesson! Share this link: http://acti.vote/CivicSeason
Here are 2 messages you can use in newsletters, social or a staff memo:
- To our community: It’s Election Season! Do you feel 100% prepared to vote? We invite you to explore the activities and resources available for free on ActiVote, a free, nonpartisan app with everything you need to be informed and confident to vote in all races on the ballot. Who, what, where, why and how all in one place: https://acti.vote/CivicSeason
- This #ElectionDay, our friends at @ActiVoteUS and @RevSpaces are asking: What ideals should bring us together as a nation? Add your voice here → https://bit.ly/3y3eeam
✅ Offer voter registration through a partnership. For example, North Carolina Museum of History partnered with When We All Vote through Made By Us, and the National Museum of American History worked with the University of Maryland using TurboVote. Wyoming Historical Society invited the League of Women Voters to a public program. Or share information about how to register, like the Anchorage Museum:
✅ Become a polling place, like the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library or the National WWI Museum. Can’t quite swing it this year? Find your nearest polling place and build a relationship by giving them a shout-out on Nov. 7, Election Poll Workers Day.
✅ Include a call to vote in your newsletter or social media. Here’s a mini toolkit you can use, with graphics here:
🗳 The future of the United States is up to those who take action to shape it. Are you ready to vote this #ElectionDay? Get started here: acti.vote/CivicSeason
🗳 Throughout U.S. history, people have fought to gain and keep the right to vote. Be part of making history by casting your ballot by Nov. 8.
🗳Hello, voters! Election Day is Nov. 8. A few resources for the #Midterms:
➡️ When and how do I vote?
Understand your voting options, dates and the rules in your state.
➡️ What’s on my ballot?
Find out about candidates and ballot measures here.
➡️ What if I need help?
Anyone experiencing issues as they try to cast their ballot can call or text 866-OUR-VOTE to speak with a trained and nonpartisan volunteer.
➡️ What if I want to do more?
One thing you can do is called “Vote Tripling”. Encourage three people in your network to get out and vote, and then encourage them to do the same!
IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT VOTERS WITH EDUCATION AND EMPOWERMENT:
✅Throw a party for first-time voters. Legally you can’t give free admission (or even free ice cream) to those with an “I Voted” sticker. But you can celebrate voting by hosting an informal event to applaud poll workers, voters and the democratic system. Last year, Museum of the Moving Image teamed up with Cook Out the Vote. In August, First Americans Museum teamed up with Rock The Native Vote for a “Battle of the Bands.”
This is a chance to show off your institution! Many museums offer citizenship ceremonies; you could invite new citizens back for a visit. Reach out to a local college with an event for their first-year class. If your city has a business or tech boom, new-to-the-area businesses might want to send employees over for a local history tour before casting ballots. (For corporate inspo, the Civic Alliance supports 1500+ companies 👀 that have pledged to support employee civic participation!)
✅ Invite your local college or high school sports team to visit your institution for a tour on All Vote No Play Day — an initiative backed by the NCAA to give athletes Election Day off practice, to have time to vote and do “civic drills.” Last year, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights gave a tour to the Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball Team.
✅ Use your social media, exhibit space or newsletter to share content about voting history, the right to vote, and key moments of democracy to inspire and ignite civic participation. You can also join Voter Education Week from Oct. 3–7 (but really, this is a year-round role!)
✅ Re-share what others are doing, especially in your community. If you want something easy and vetted, to re-post, Made By Us has created content on the history of voting rights:
The 15th Amendment // Build your civic weekend // Writing prompts to figure out what you stand for // Carrie Bradshaw Meme & more to come soon!
You could also go beyond “voters” and extend participation to those who can’t cast a ballot. Invite people to share what they stand for using this poster generator!
✅Host town halls, forums or political debates at your site. Though this takes planning and preparation, it’s a seed to plant for future years: museums are powerful, nonpartisan conveners of people and stories — making us the ideal hosts for such conversations.
How are you showing up this year? Do you have examples to share? Tag @historymadebyus with what you’re seeing from cultural institutions ~in the wild~ this election season. Check out the ActiVote app to get voting-ready, and most of all, don’t forget to VOTE!
Thanks to Sara Gifford (Activote) for ideation; Cameron Katz (Made By Us) for graphic design and research; Kate Doak-Keszler (Made By Us) for research; and Carrie Kotcho (National Museum of American History), Orlando Serrano (National Museum of American History) and Claire Haley (Atlanta History Center) for review.