Students Encourage Voting With Creative Videos

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What do a pirate, a singer and a Lego man have in common? They all vote.

In a contest for the best video to promote the act of voting, students from East Hampton and Southampton towns submitted their finest attempts at encouraging people to take advantage of their rights as U.S. citizens.

In one video, a Lego Batman fights off the bad guys to get to a voting booth. Another features silly costumed voters saying they can vote despite how they look. A third features a singing host who shows how easy it is to cast a ballot.

These, deemed the most creative, made the cut for “best” Promote the Vote video, according to Judi Roth, the chairman of the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons’ education committee.

Jillian Hear and Samantha Price, best friends from Montauk, put their heads together to create “I Do It,” a short video where the 11- and 12-year-old girls at various times dress up as Big Bird from “Sesame Street,” a dancer in a red headband and a pirate to show that everyone votes, no matter what they look like. Even Jillian’s parents, Joy and George Hear, testify that they’re voting in the video.

“I thought ‘Everybody can vote,’” Jillian said on Monday. “It doesn’t matter what you look like or how old you are, if you are 18 or 90, so we put a bunch of costumes on and everyone says ‘I’m voting.’”

According to Eric Coffey, a Southampton High School senior, voting is easy as one, two, three—which is also the name of his video. With help from his friend Carissa Corr, Eric opened his video by singing his version of Bill Withers’s “Lean On Me” and showed what it takes to vote—walking to the polls, getting a ballot and filling it out.

“We wanted to do something fresh and new. We tried to put relatable music in the background and singing to capture the audience’s attention—it was quick but entertaining,” Eric said, explaining that he is a singer and regularly does musical productions. “It’s always important to vote and we wanted to make people aware that they should be educated on what they’re voting for.”

Eric, 17, said that he was inspired to do the video because of the Tuckahoe-Southampton school districts merger vote on October 29, when the community turned out to decide whether or not the two districts should become one. Eric said that he also took part in the Southampton High School student body’s peaceful protest when the vote failed, and that he looks forward to the next time a vote is taken.

The very first entry the League of Women Voters received blew them out of the water, Ms. Roth said.

It was from Carson Aguilar, an 11-year-old from Springs who made a stop-motion video with Legos. Lego Batman finds the Joker outside the polling booth, blocking Robin from voting. Batman saves the day, and the town, by putting the Joker out right after casting his own ballot.

Carson, who is in the sixth grade at the Springs School, said he regularly makes stop-motion Lego videos with his tablet and his Promote the Vote video only took 10 minutes to create. “I just used my imagination,” Carson said.

Ms. Roth said the biggest element the league’s Education Committee was looking for was creativity while getting across the point that voting is important.

“We wanted to reach out to a younger group of kids and make them think about voting in a way that was fun for them and something they’d take with them when they got older,” she said, explaining that the contest was open to all Hamptons kids, age 10 to 18.

The contest was advertised at libraries across the Hamptons, including the Westhampton and Hampton Bays libraries, which supported the project along with Bridgehampton National Bank.

Each of the winning teams received $100 in gift cards for iTunes and Amazon.com.

Aside from taking home some pretty sweet rewards, the students took home a valuable lesson.

“Voting is really important because people complain about what’s happening when they did not vote,” Jillian said. “They don’t take action.”

Carson’s video simply sums up why it’s so important.

“Why do you vote”? the video asks Lego Batman.

“I vote to save the town,” Batman replies.

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