Doesn’t matter if it’s for the sense of civic duty or the chance to win a new flat-screen.
Either way, the Best Damn Sports Bar just wants you to vote.
The Penticton establishment has teamed up with a host of businesses in town to encourage young residents to exercise their democratic rights with a contest called Rock the Vote 2011. All those who cast a ballot on Nov. 19 and bring proof to the bar by 8 p.m. are entered into a draw for prizes.
Max Picton, Best Damn’s general manager, said there had been discussion around the bar from some older generations about needing to get younger people out to vote.
“A big part of why the youth aren’t voting today is they don’t understand the process. It seems complicated,” he said. “The very first time you do it, you don’t understand it. Our goal is to make it as simple as possible, so they understand it’s not a complicated process.”
He said that they began bandying about possible ideas of how to get young people out, and decided they would help them take care of everything: a shuttle would take voters to the polls and staff would explain the process of voting to all.
“The point of the shuttle is so we can say, ‘All you have to do is show up with your ID and we’ll take care of the rest. We’ll show you how to vote,’” Picton said. “We’ll take you down there and make it really easy for you to get involved.”
And it could pay off dividends. Best Damn wanted to sweeten the pot for young voters by offering good prizes: a 42-inch high-definition television, IPhone or gift certificates for Freeride Boardshop and the Mule Nightclub.
“We wanted a couple of prizes that spoke to the youth, that might actually be enough incentive for them to go and vote. It’s just a reward for becoming involved, more or less,” he said, adding the partner businesses were happy to jump on board. “As soon as I phoned them and told them about the event, they said, ‘Yes, 100 per cent. We want to push our customers to do the same thing.’ It’s really a few of the businesses in the community working to make this happen.”
Those looking to take part should bring two pieces of ID, including one with their address on it like a driver’s licence. Failing that, bring the ID and piece of mail indicating address.
The shuttle will run from noon to 8 p.m. Entrants don’t have to take the shuttle down to the polling station at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, but they are required to show some proof of their attendance — snapping a picture with a digital camera or cellphone will suffice.
Once that’s completed, Picton said entrants can return to the bar at 260 Martin St. and enter the draw, which will be held shortly after the UFC fight that night, at approximately 10 p.m.
Picton understands it’s not a perfect system, in that someone could just take a photo by the polling station and try to dupe staff. But a big part of it is the awareness factor.
“If someone really wanted to mess around, take a picture and not vote themselves, they could. But the goal is to get everybody thinking about it and get them down there,” he said.
So far, the business is getting a good reaction to the contest — including a host of mayoral and council candidates, who have thrown their support behind the project.
“It’s fantastic. Everybody just thinks it’s an amazing event,” he said. “The candidates themselves think it’s a great idea because they understand that we need to get the youth involved in the political process in town.
“I’ve had so many individuals come up to me and say, Thank you for doing this.’ I was quite impressed. It was a better response than I even had hoped for.”
For information about the contest, check out Best Damn’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bdsb.penticton.