New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is stepping up Democratic efforts to make sure young voters are prepared when heading to the polls on Election Day, especially in light of COVID-19. On Oct. 21, 2020, AOC livestreamed on Twitch to engage with the younger demographic that frequents the video game-centric livestreaming platform — many of whom might be voting for the first time. While she may have been playing the popular game, Among Us, her true goal was to promote the website IWillVote.com, a free election resource that can help you determine whether you’re registered to vote (including directions on how to register if you’re not); how to find voting or ballot drop-off locations in your area; as well as recapping important deadlines and voting requirements specific to each state in the country.
AOC’s message was simple and persistent throughout the stream: “Make sure you have your voting plan,” whether that’s voting early, voting by mail, or simply allotting enough time to make it through the voting site door. For viewers that aren’t of voting age or can’t vote because they don’t live in the United States, AOC urged them to find someone who is eligible to vote and direct them to the website to ensure they are well-prepared with their own voting plan before Election Day.
AOC’s Twitch stream (the first time hosting one on her own channel, no less) set a streaming record; at one point there were 439,000 sets of potential-voter eyes on her Twitch channel. She was joined by Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and some of Twitch’s most popular streamers including Pokimane (who typically averages 30,000 viewers) and Hasan Piker (of The Young Turks fame, who typically averages 20,000 viewers). Many of the players who joined AOC had expressed interest under her announcement tweet on Oct. 19. Late into AOC’s approximately three-and-a-half-hour stream, Omar’s daughter, 17-year-old environmental activist Isra Hirsi joined the game lobby as well.
Not a stranger to virtual outreach, AOC frequently speaks to her constituents via Instagram stories. The freshman representative is also not new to popular video games; in May 2020, AOC visited islands in Nintendo Switch’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons, leaving uplifting messages on players’ bulletin boards during the peak of pandemic lockdowns.
Among Us was first released in 2018 but didn’t gain popularity until the summer of 2020 due to Twitch streamers and influencers from TikTok and YouTube. The co-op multiplayer game involves four to 10 players getting dropped into a spaceship; privately, players are designated as either a crewmate assigned to perform various tasks on the spaceship or an imposter assigned to sabotage and kill crewmates. Meetings can be held where players must debate amongst themselves on who is an imposter and who should be “voted” off the spaceship — fittingly, what we’ve all been doing in the months leading up to the election.
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