If there's anything that could turn you off from political involvement, it's the 2016 presidential election. It's no secret that many people will be voting this year simply to keep someone out of holding the highest office in the land, but there are still many people who are totally disenfranchised and don't want to vote at all. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are viewed as "unfavorable" by more than 50 percent of voters, according to multiple polls. And it's not like everyone eligible to vote actually votes, anyway. In the past four presidential elections, turnout rates ranged from 54.2 percent of those eligible (in 2000) to 62.3 percent (2008). On top of that, the anger that has come with this election in particular is off the charts because of both the polarizing nominees and the fact that voters can log on to social media and say whatever they want about the candidates (and their supporters), whenever they want. (Just look at the tweets that came out after it was revealed Hillary Clinton had pneumonia, or after she called Trump supporters "deplorables.") It's easy to feel like politics just isn't for you at a time like this, but actor Ana Ortiz and We The Voters, a series of short videos about voting and the U.S. government, just might make you feel a bit more calm whenever someone asks, "Are you voting?"
"This is not us preaching at you. This is not anyone wagging a finger," Ortiz says while visiting Bustle HQ on a rainy Wednesday in New York City. "I’m tired of all of the polarization and I know other people are too."
One of the things Ortiz likes best about We The Voters, which features 20 short films meant to "activate people to get out and vote," according to the actor, is that the series is non-partisan. Each film answers a question potential voters might have about the government and elections, and Ortiz stars in one called #FoundingFathers, which is about the constitution. "I got to play one of the founding fathers, so how often do you get to see a Puerto Rican woman who gets to play James Madison?" the Devious Maids and Ugly Betty star says. "[My film] answered a lot of questions that I had — that I didn't even know I had."
This isn't the 45-year-old actor's first time working to get out the vote and she credits the fact that she's always been a "politically passionate person" to her politician father and mother, who was very involved in politics, as well. But the reason she got involved with We The Voters in particular had to do with the format. "The way that they've gone about it with these short films... They're so accessible. They're short. They're really informative. They're funny. Some of them are animated. There's documentary style," she says. "This just seemed like the right way to approach this, because there's so much anger and misinformation, and I think people are just turned off by the political process right now."
Ortiz was also influenced to take part by being both a woman and a Latina. Speaking to the dialogue surrounding Latino Americans this election cycle, she says, "I think fear of any people is just because you don't know enough and that just freaks you out." And she wants people who feel like they are being overlooked, to know that they can be heard: "Whoever you are: Latino, Asian, white, black, you have a voice."
The Elena of Avalor actor says she always feels a sense of "pride" after she votes and encourages anyone who says they don't want to vote to check out the We The Voters videos. And if they still don't want to vote? "I won't even really want to hear your opinion," she says. "I'll hear your opinion about the restaurant down the block, but don't try to talk to me about Hillary if you didn't vote."
The first 10 films of the We The Voters series are currently available at wethevoters.com. The remainder of the films, including Ortiz's #FoundingFathers, will be released Oct. 12.
Image: We The Voters