As a documentary film producer, Lise Zumwalt is always on the lookout for stories that could turn into potential projects. The story that caught her eye, however, was a big one; the state of democracy in the United States in the wake of 2016 election.
Narrowing her focus, Zumwalt wanted to create a project that could locate where American voters’ minds were at this historical moment.
I say historical moment, because if we take into consideration the recent IPCC report on climate change, the expansive income disparity and unequal distribution of wealth, the lack of access the majority of Americans have to health care, the issue of immigration, the uncertainty looming over women’s reproductive rights as well as LGBTQIA rights, I think we can certainly say there is a lot at stake.
Aware of this, Zumwalt created SNAP 2018; a resource site for voters and for those deliberating whether to make their way to the polls on November 6th.
View this post on Instagram
She’s an award-winning documentary producer having worked on over 50 documentaries for major television networks including NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, PBS, and NBC to name a few. Lise is currently involved in two major projects; she’s the creator and executive producer for “Snap2018” launching this week, your “go to” for the midterm elections and she’s a partner on “A BAND OF VOTERS” a get out the vote effort for Millennials for the 2018 midterm elections! Featuring Lise on Freshmes is a no brainer and we are damn proud of it. If you want to see experience -she’s got it; credibility -she’s got it; talent -well that’s pretty evident. On Freshmes, one of the many great things Lise will be able to explore is the ability for her to monetize her projects through a unique distribution platform, yep… Freshmes! 😉👍 In the meantime, check out all her current projects; snap2018.com @witdoc_projex (link in her bio) and @abandofvoters for more info! . . . Photo Credit: James Hercule @lereefdesigns Makeup: Marilynn Elie @marilynneliebeaute #freshmes #freshmesfeature #masterthejuggle #nycfilms #indiefilms #documentaryfilms #nycproducers #nyc #losangeles #filmmakers #womenproducers #womeninmedia #abandofvoters #snap2018 #awardwinningfilmmaker
In speaking to KultureHub, Zumwalt noted that while we have access to an unprecedented amount of information, via our devices, it is hard to sieve through the bombardment of information disseminated from mainstream media outlets and the raging 24-hour news cycle. Importantly, as Zumwalt asserts,
“We want to know what all that information means.”
Zumwalt wanted SNAP to be highly accessible and intelligible. A site that clearly lays out information on voting patterns and trends for those interested, politically inclined, or who want to (re)enact their civic right to vote.
The site collects and synthesizes data from research conducted across the nation, revealing who votes and who doesn’t, and crucially, who cannot vote because of the institutional obstructions of voter suppression and gerrymandering.
SNAP 2018 is also invested in spotlighting the voting opinions of individuals who occupy different parts of the political spectrum in order to explore the importance of participating in the democratic process.
The site even contains an interactive element. Visitors to the site have the option of participating in polls that are framed by questions like what they consider to be their deal breaker issues, why they think people don’t vote and the consequences for this inaction, whether they think the party they identify with truly represents their interests and more.
With millennials occupying the biggest voting block in the country, Zumwalt was eager to get out there and talk the generation that could have a major impact on the results on November 6.
When asking Zumwalt what she found to be a recurrent theme amongst the individual Republican voters she interviewed, she recounted that they all favored the administration’s current tax cuts, the state of the national economy and supported a strong stance on foreign policy.
In regards to the individual Democratic voters she interviewed, Zumwalt stated that many were concerned about civil rights, the economy, gun control, and healthcare. She conveyed that while other issues were discussed in the interview, the common thread amongst the Democrats voters was,
“a pointed rejection of the current administration — having a wrong agenda, wrong tone.”
The research and data specifically cite millennial women as the group able to swing the election. In speaking to KultureHub, Zumwalt relayed what she found notable in her interviews with millennial women, stating,
“Their grasp of the issues is impressive and despite corruption in the system, they remain optimistic about using the system for change.”
Additionally, many align with the notion of being ‘fiscally conservative and socially liberal.’ She also described how millennial women generally do not identify with the Republican and the Democratic party and instead, largely consider themselves to be Independents.
Speaking of Independents, SNAP’s research shows that they are actually the biggest voting group and thus debunks the common conception of Independents as being a minority voting group. In discussing independent voters in our interview, Zumwalt declared,
“They’re the wild card in voter turnout.”
Yet, with 45% of voters not voting in 2016, Zumwalt was committed to investigating why, as well as discovering what non-voters views are on the democratic process.
The individual interviews revealed the primary reason for not-voting was due to their dislike for the 2016 candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. While some are choosing to not vote, in contrast, there are more first-time candidates running for office than ever.
As Zumwalt notes,
“We have a much more diverse group of candidates on the Democratic side – people who are scientists, doctors, run non-profits, are trans, bi, are sexual assault survivors, etc. This is a big change — and the fact that so many people with no political experience jumped in indicates that a huge number of people feel that the parties have failed to represent them.”
Since Congress is largely made up of white older men with backgrounds in law and business, the insurgence of first-time candidates is indicative of a move to have a creating political site that is more inclusive and representative of the populous.
View this post on Instagram
This is what organizing looks like. It’s how we started organizing from day 1, and how we continue to do it to this day. Talk to a member of the community, have them invite their neighbors over to talk about issues and ask questions in a comfortable environment centered on true conversation – not combativeness. It doesn’t mean everyone has the same thoughts on everything, but it does mean we can come together, gather in the same space, and put our community first. . 📸: @thewhelming
A notion that corresponds to Michigan candidate Laurie Pohutsky’s (D), reasoning for running for Congress for the first time, asserting to Zumwalt in her interview with her that,
“I thought if you don’t see someone that looks like you, be that person.”
Lise Zumwalt is an award-winning documentary producer who has worked on over 50 documentaries for major television networks including NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, PBS, and NBC to name a few.
She is the founder of Witness Documentary Films, a New York-based production company. Lise is currently involved in another project called, “A BAND OF VOTERS” a call to Millennials to get out an vote for the 2018 midterm elections.
View this post on Instagram
It’s #turnouttuesday !!! Your most important outfit is the one you wear to vote. Share your voting outfit ideas with us. We want to hear how you #partytothepolls . #abov #votecalifornia #turnouttuesday #election2018 #midterms #midtermsmatter #abandofvoters #gif #animationart #votesaveamerica