Rock the Vote planning summer concert visits

Toby Uecker

Toby Uecker

While some political organizations slow down their work during off-election years like the one greeting voters in 2003, Rock the Vote’s Brookings street team leader said her group is going strong and ready to do its work at the concert tour scene this summer.

Emily Hauge, who’s worked with organizing the Brookings Street Team since last spring, said the group will be able to focus on the organization’s goal of simply registering voters, instead of dealing with the multiple elections and issues brought out during the 2002 election cycle.

Hauge’s street team, which serves not only the eastern part of South Dakota, but also the concert venues in Fargo and Omaha, now boasts 79 volunteers. She said that number offers a lot of opportunities for the coming summer.

“That means that we will be seeing a lot more concerts and be registering a lot more people to vote,” she said.

She also said a year of experience on her part will make this second summer more productive.

“The difference between last summer and this summer is that last summer was so experimental,” Hauge said. “Now we know where we can really target our students at.”

Among the venues the street team will will be working are local events like Sioux Falls’ JazzFest, and RibFest, concerts by Matchbox 20, Dave Matthews Band and the Warped Tour and even several rodeos.

While Hauge’s supervisors in Los Angeles might scoff at the idea of working at the rodeo events, she said, “The rodeos are a big draw in South Dakota.”

Hauge also hopes to capitalize on the smaller venues unique to communities like Sioux Falls. While small concert halls and hang-outs may only gather a couple hundred potential voters at a time, the vast majority of audience members fall within Rock the Vote’s fairly young target group.

“There’s definitely potential here,” Hauge said.

The potential means that Rock the Vote can hope to register more than the fairly respectable 270 voters it did this past semester, Hauge said.

Even without an election to focus on, she said, the group can lay a lot of serious groundwork for the next election cycle.

We’re really going to be relaunching the program for 2004,” she said. “In an effort to do that, we’re promoting Rock the Vote. We’re promoting what we stand for, and we’re just promoting registering to vote.”

Speaking to her dedication to the group, Hauge said, “270 people may not rock a vote or change an election, but when you have … an elected representative winning by 500 votes and we can register 1,000 students to vote … then you know that you can make a difference.”

#1.886962:2213581676.jpg:rockthevoteboothshot.jpg:Rock the Vote street team members Dustin Wagner and Brandi Sour work to register students at a booth on the Warped Tour last summer. Rock the Vote plans to be out in again this summer, registering voters and preparing for the 2004 election cycle.:courtesy photo