What better way to explain an electoral system (or anything, really) than by using cupcakes? At "ReEmergence 2011: commUNITY," the League of Young Voters' annual fundraising, education, and networking event, attendees will be invited to sample more than 1000 mini cupcakes (all donated by five local bakeries). Then, they'll vote on which they like best, using the ranked-choice voting (RCV) process that allows voters to indicate first, second, and third choices on their ballot. Two sets of results will be announced during the dance-party portion of the evening (which takes place from 9 pm to 12:30 am): one to show who would have won using the "old" system, and the other to crown the winner using RCV, the system that will be used in Portland to elect the city's mayor this fall.
"Change is scary," says Hilary Frenkel, who recently was named co-director (along with Nicola Wells) of the League. "Our big thing is making sure that people understand [the RCV system] before going to the ballot box in November. We're trying to make sure people practice."
The event will also feature a community art show earlier in the evening (from 6 to 9 pm) and performances by local dancers and musicians — belly dancers, a burlesque act, Hoboe and Mystic Vibes, and a DJ will all contribute to the night, highlighting the many forms that culture and community take in Portland, according to organizer Seren Huus.
That's not all the League has on its plate. In addition to a reorganization earlier this year, shifting to a "shared leadership model" where Frenkel and Wells share some authority with the organization's steering and governance committees, Frenkel says the group has honed its focus on the issues. "Our goal is really to invest, particularly for the Portland base, in young people," she says, pointing out that the issues that are "literally knocking on young people's doors right now" all have to do with the economy — such as health insurance, student loans, and making rent. "Any issue we work on, if it doesn't relate to jobs and the economy, we can't work on it right now."
To that end, the League is also hosting two "Citizen Portland" forums this month (May 12 and 26) to identify Portland's priorities for the next year and through 2016. "What do we want those candidates talking about in those campaigns?" Frenkel asks, referring to the mayoral candidates, and adding that political strategies might be different this year due to the ranked-choice voting system. "We have this opportunity to talk about what our vision is for the next five years in Portland."
ReEmergence | Wednesday, May 18 from 6 pm-12:30 am | at SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St, Portland | 207.772.3207 | maine.theleague.com
Citizen Portland | Thursday, May 12 @ 5:30 pm | at Portland Public Library, Rines Auditorium, 5 Monument Square, Portland | Thursday, May 26 @ 5:30 pm | at Deering High School, 370 Stevens Ave, Portland | email@example.com