Make voting a privilege again

Ongoing drawing project, experimenting on how to visually talk about current political topics in Switzerland. Sketches and photo, Fanny Ernst

How many people in this world wish they could freely say what they think? Think of Turkish people, Egyptians or Venezuelans, only to state a few. In Switzerland like in many other western countries we have this chance.

I want to make us want to use our voting rights and thus help shape the society we want to live in.

There are many reasons why one can feel concerned by society’s questions or not. One reason I feel personally connected to is the environment in which we grew up. Politics wasn’t very much a topic we spoke about as I grew up. My mother had a lot of other things to deal with than to talk about “this world of puppets who fight for their own success and don’t care one bit about the real people” (this was and still is the way she sees it). When I reached the age of 18, I did know I was able to vote but the means that were given to me in order to be informed didn’t appear to make me feel concerned and interested. It indeed looked a bit like my mother’s description. The news on TV enhanced the fights between politicians from “the left” and “the right” instead of focusing on the content, I wasn’t into newspapers and the official voting documents looked like the worst of my school books. Who or what was going to show me that there is more to politics than the puppets who fight for their success and that I had the chance to shape the society I live in by using my civic rights?

I eventually had the chance to meet future friends who understood more about politics than I did. Indeed, they didn’t only get a few informations about our voting rights at school but they had parents who introduced them to these topics over the years.

What about all the millennials who live in an environment in which they don’t have access to the fun, important and interesting part of being a citizen?

People like my mother wouldn’t have to complain if they would participate in our system. To avoid this mindset, which I call counterproductive and selfish, I decided to use my knowledge as a graphic designer to make the world of politics more attractive and accessible for young people.

To begin with this huge matter, I‘ve concentrated on the idea of informing about the subjects put to votes. I took a closer look at the official Swiss voting documents and my primary and secondary research shows that these documents are well used by people who are interested and familiar with politics*. When conducting interviews, I learned that young people around the age of 18 don’t want to look at those documents for the simple reason that the substantial information is visualised in a language that is foreign to them.

“It looks like advertising and I would throw it away.” Mirchan, 18, never voted yet.
Official Swiss voting documents for the cantons of Lucern, Jura, Uri and Zürich

At the moment I am analysing existing information material in Switzerland and abroad in order to define what and how I can get closer to young voters with a solution suited to our current and future ways of accessing information.

I imagine a solution that involves using the content (subjects) to define the right medium (print, digital, text, images, gifs, live-discussions) instead of focusing on one format like the classical printed brochure. My goal until June 2017 is to build a prototype in order to test, reflect, collaborate with partners and find potential funding programs.

I believe in the power of visual arts in making people feel concerned and say what they mean.

Are you interested in learning more about my project? Get in touch!

* Sources (in German):

Mediennutzung > Nutzung Bundesbüchlein
Politische Involvierung > Politisches Interesse