Now, designers and their considerable power of persuasion are jostling to create positive change with poster that gets all Americans - whether driver or walker, burger-scoffer or leaf-eater, liberal or conservative - to have their say in the 2016 general election.
In 2012, the latest election, there was an estimated 57.5% turn-out. With famous designers from Milton Glaser (shown) to Paula Scher, and less well-known names, the Get Out the Vote campaign is hoping to up that number in 2016 with brilliant, convincing design.
Here, we’ve collected our favourites from the hundreds of submissions – whether clever, funny or empowering, like Milton Glaser’s simple, striking effort (shown). Feeling inspired? Submissions are accepted until 8 November.
Image: To Vote is to Exist by Milton Glaser
Sean Adams, director at Art Centre College of Design and founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, has brilliantly paired a twee, old-fashioned illustration style with a stark choice, unforgiving typography and a bright orange, unmissable warning: be a freaking idiot or vote.
“Whether you are actively voting or sitting at home and doing nothing, you are making a decision about our leadership. Nobody is exempt from the responsibility of a democracy. Don’t be a sheep,” says Sean.
Image: Don’t be a Sheep by Sean Adams
Graphic designer Andrew Twigg’s submission is delicious to look at and deliciously simple, like the best design often in - a fitting way to send an equally simple message: vote.
“While it's unlikely that a single vote will be the deciding factor in elections—local or national—the combined actions of individuals define the outcome,” says Andrew. “A vote is part of a collective voice that articulates what the people want from their government, even if the voter doesn't get exactly what they wanted. So exercise your influence. Be part of the conversation. Vote.”
Image: Tilt by Andrew Twigg
Er, sorry? Don’t vote?! Matt Munoz’s screaming poster grabs you by the throat for a moment. Then it gives you a gentle, persuasive hug: who could say they don’t care about human rights, the environment or tighty whiteys?
Image: Don’t vote… by Matt Munoz
Funny, slightly scary and definitely motivating, Rob Schilke slickly designed poster gets to the point.
Image: No Excuses by Rob Scilke
With its casual, inky style, Jeffrey McKay’s poster has an air of a clever action-call of grassroots activism.
“In a representative democracy, the only way you are truly heard is to participate and vote,” says Jeffrey. “It's a simple idea but one that, when everyone participates, is beautifully effective.”
Image: Your vote is your voice by Jeffrey McKay
Leading designer and host of podcast Design Matters Debbie Millman has produced an unsurprisingly brilliant, striking poster.
Image: Get out the vote by Debbie Millman
Designer Allison Glancey uses a retro style and beautiful textures to create an alluring poster.
Image: Vote! by Allison Glancey
Art director, illustrator and photographer Lindsey Tweed’s repeated message is pretty hard to misunderstand – and with the fun, gorgeous mix of type and styles, hard to stop looking at too.
Image: A call to arms by Lindsey Tweed
Designer David Jones’ inspiring, retro poster shows you don’t have to put on a yellow jacket to build your country.
“A vote, be it for a presidential primary or county seat is an opportunity for citizens to build,” says David. “Build policy, build schools and roads, build communities both large and small.
“While the voting process and more broadly, the responsibility of citizens to inform themselves of their choices can present a unique set of challenges, it is imperative that we remember what it is we vote for, and that is to build upon the efforts, thoughts and progress made by those who came before.”
Image: Vote to Build by David Jones
“This poster combines two powerful icons into one idea,” says Kevin. “The raised fist is a symbol of solidarity and support and the Statue of Liberty a symbol of Freedom. "The Power of Freedom" comes with the right to VOTE.”
Image: Power and Liberty to All by Kevin Garrison
It makes you dizzy if you look at it too long – but you don’t need to: Paula Scher of Pentagram’s colourful, busy poster gets its message across instantly.
Image: Vote by Paula Scher
Don’t walk into the wrong booth on voting day, warns graphic designer Ann Ford in a hilarious poster with a serious message: “Regardless of your voting preferences, just vote. Our children are depending on us to choose for their future,” says Ann. “Let's not let them down.”
Image: Don’t Piss Away Your Vote by Ann Ford