Visualizing the vote: 2020 edition
Credit: Adobe Stock/Lost_in_the_Midwest
By RF Jurjevics
Posted on 10-07-2020
As with most everything right now, a huge part of American life has moved from “in real life” to online only (or, almost), including politics. Both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions were heavily virtual events this year, each featuring a cast of guest speakers who addressed attendees right from their own homes.
Similarly, the biggest American political event of 2020 – the presidential election – will not be a predominantly in-person affair as it has been in the past. Instead, Americans have (for the most part) been directed to cast their votes via U.S. Postal Service, which is already delivering mail-in ballots to registered voters across the country.
Credit: Adobe Stock / Cavan Social
Not everyone will get to vote by mail, however. To date, five states – Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas – require voters to cite reasons other than COVID-19 concerns in order to receive a mail-in ballot (though this is subject to change). As a result, some voters will have to brave the polling lines - with masks on.
This change in format (and forum, and location) of the 2020 election means that each part of the process is going to look different, too. How different? Consider the current news coverage. As with every election, both progress and process are being meticulously tracked by the news media, with data refreshes as new information comes in. However, a few new elements have been added to election 2020 overviews, most notably the expanded system of mail-in ballots. The New York Times is currently tracking the percentage of absentee voters with a running tally of how many mail-in ballots have been requested and sent (based on state requirements and voter need).
But what does this mean for creatives?
A major election usually generates similar visuals, no matter the year: busy polling places; voters waiting in line; ‘I Voted’ stickers proudly displayed, and so on. For the 2020 election, all of that still stands, but with the addition of masks, hand sanitizing stations, social distancing, and people opting to mail in their ballots rather than vote in person.
Credit: Adobe Stock /Panfilia
There are also other visual aspects to consider when planning out your 2020 election content, no matter the medium. Consider these facts:
- The population of the United States, at the beginning of the year 2020, was 331 million. The number of registered U.S. voters this year is reported to be 209.4 million.
- The number of registered U.S. voters in 2016 was reported to be 200 million; in in 2008 - another historic election year - that number was 146.3 million.
- According to a Pew Research Center study, the largest surge in voter registration (since the year 2000) has been “[LatinX], Black and Asian eligible voters,” so make sure your voting-related imagery reflects this electorate.
- Voting by mail is great, but delaying is not. The deadlines vary by state, and, thus far, 16 of them - Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, Alabama, Wisconsin, Maine, Georgia, Michigan, Delaware, South Carolina, Louisiana, South Dakota, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Montana - make it particularly hard for procrastinators to get their votes in. See a complete breakdown of all state policies here.
Credit: Adobe Stock / Kyle Monk/Blend Images
- The U.S. Postal Service, which is handling all the mail-in ballots, has 7.3 million employees, according to USPS records. They handle 48 percent of mail for the entire world. Postal workers of all kinds - carriers, sorters, drivers, and beyond - are essential workers, and are especially essential during this election season. Consider this when you’re outlining your visual content plans.
- Another good fact to know, especially for infographic material: the USPS is doing all of this with zero of our tax dollars - $0!
For more inspiration, check out Adobe Stock’s curated Gallery, “Get Out the Vote”.
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