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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Up to Us, a four-month-old organization largely made up of young techies, is debuting a social media-based campaign Tuesday aimed at getting young adults (or “Gen Z”) to register to vote for the upcoming U.S. elections in November.

Why it matters: In 2016, while 88% of Americans aged 18 to 30 intended to vote, only 43% of them did, according to data from the American National Election Studies.

The big picture: Up to Us, which kicks off its campaign Tuesday for National Voter Registration Day, is the latest effort to appeal to young voters to register and participate in the election.

Between the lines: “I felt so helpless, we were sitting there, watching so much go wrong,” founder Conor Sanchez-O’Shea tells Axios of the first few months of 2020 as the pandemic quickly engulfed the U.S. amid ongoing political turmoil.

  • Like other young activists, he eventually decided that getting his peers to vote in November would be the best use of time and effort.
  • Since then, he's enlisted Outvote chief operating officer Emily DaSilva, Google Hardware influencer lead Ava Donaldson, and YouTuber (and former tech journalist) Sam Sheffer, among others, to the team. Some members of a group that used Twitter and emoji to stage a clever weekend critique of the tech industry's culture have also joined the organization.

Details: Up to Us has partnered with Outvote, which has built the underlying website voters interact with, while Up to Us is on the front end, leading the marketing efforts via social media outreach, especially through partnerships with TikTok stars.

  • Users are provided with three options: checking their status if they’ve registered before, finding out how to register if they never have, or helping to get others to check their status if they aren’t eligible to vote themselves.
  • Users can amass entries to potentially win a videochat with a TikTok star, or enter to win a Tesla car.
  • Via Outvote, Up to Us is also using Civitech to send users printed, pre-paid application forms to apply for mail-in ballots.
  • More generally, it’s hoping to help young voters navigate the basic mechanics of voting, from registering to figuring out when and how to cast their ballots, though it’s remaining non-partisan and steering clear from advocating for any candidate or issue.

The project has not been without challenges. Some young social media stars declined to participate, citing a lack of faith that voting and the political process can be effective, says Sanchez-O'Shea.

The bottom line: "We want to make a real difference — we don't want this to be a stunt," says Sanchez-O'Shea, adding that he's conservatively hoping the campaign will yield 100,000 registration status checks and a couple thousand ballot applications.

Editor's note: The story has been corrected to show that unregistered voters are provided with information on how to (not a direct registration option).

Go deeper

Georgia's early voting starts with heavy turnout

Voters wait in line to vote at the Buckhead Library in Atlanta on the first day of in-person early voting for the Georgia Senate runoff election. Photo: Jason Armond/Getty Images

Georgia's on an early path to a huge turnout in the two runoffs to decide control of the U.S. Senate, according to data from the Georgia Secretary of State's Office crunched by Axios.

By the numbers: Voters cast 482,000 ballots in roughly the first day and a half of early voting this week. That’s equivalent to one-third of the total in the last statewide general election runoff, held in 2018, and about one-fourth of the total ballots in the last Senate runoff, held in 2008.

17 mins ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.