With HeadCount at Global Citizens Festival in 2018.



As the midterms approach, the stress can really build up. We are bombarded by campaign ads, emails, yard signs, phone calls, canvassers, and a 24/7 news cycle trying to predict outcomes. Each of us holds many issues near and dear to our hearts, which will inevitably be affected by the results of this year’s midterms.

Personally, I’m thinking a lot about how this election will determine access to reproductive healthcare around the country (including in my home state of Michigan!), as well as the protection of queer and trans folks’ rights, and action to combat climate change. When the state of the world, and especially national politics, feels  overwhelming, I often turn to service to make a direct impact.

My whiteboard sign on the HeadCount table at a Lizzo concert in October 2022.

HeadCount is a national nonpartisan organization that harnesses the power of live music to help people register to vote. I’ve volunteered with them since I moved to New York in 2018, registering voters and promoting civic engagement at concerts, festivals, and protests around the city. Registering to vote and staying up-to-date on your voter registration can be confusing (and a bureaucratic pain), especially for young adults. It’s extremely rewarding to be able to help people through that process, connect them to voting resources, and remind them about the importance of using their ballots to make change. There’s nothing like the excitement of a group of sequin-clad teenagers realizing they can register to vote at a Harry Styles concert to restore your faith in democracy!

Our HeadCount table at Harry Styles in September 2022


In 2020, live events weren’t happening and in-person canvassing wasn’t really an option. I felt that familiar combination of dread and helplessness as the presidential election drew closer. I signed up for a text-banking night with Supermajority, “a voting advocacy hub focussed not only on protecting women’s rights, but on bringing women together as a political force that transcends age, race, and background.”

Screenshot from text-banking with Supermajority in 2020.

Overwhelmingly, I got responses from people who were happy to hear from us, proud to share their voting plans, and curious about their vote-by-mail options. I heard from people who were planning on voting for the first time, and others who had been voting for 36 years (see screenshot!). After two hours of listening to high-energy pop divas and sending hundreds of texts, I signed up to do it again the next week.


While there are many ways to support the causes or candidates we care about, engaging in service has the additional benefit of bringing people together. During a time when we were still staying indoors and limiting in-person gatherings, my weekly text-banking nights helped me feel less alone. The experience not only allowed me to talk to voters around the country, but also connected me to a community of fellow volunteers who share my passion for voting rights. Growing up Jewish, I was taught that valuing justice, tzedek, is not enough, but rather, we are morally required to actively uphold it. The right to vote is still not guaranteed for all citizens in this country, and there are ongoing efforts to further restrict access to the polls.  I can’t help but feel compelled to do something about it. 

Canvassing with candidate Jennifer Conlin (aka my mom) on a rainy day in October 2022

This year, in addition to all of the issues on the ballot, so is my mom, Jennifer Conlin! She is running for state representative in Michigan’s new 48th house district. She’s a first-time candidate in a swing district in a swing state, and the pressure is ON. It’s been incredible to see first-hand all of the work that goes into a political campaign: the months of planning, relationship-building, fundraising, and canvassing. She is out knocking on doors for hours every day to ask folks what they’re concerned about and to listen deeply to them.

I was recently canvassing with my mom on a rainy Monday and we were met with someone who did not seem particularly interested in or supportive of her platform. She thanked him for taking the time to talk to us, and as we left his front stoop, she turned and said, “I hope you vote on November 8th! Even if you don’t vote for me, I hope you vote!”

To me, that’s what serving in support of free & fair elections is all about. Our democracy only works when everyone understands how, and is actively encouraged, to exercise their right to vote.  She inspires me by putting her values into action, dedicating herself to serving her community. 

I’m proud to work at an organization, Repair the World, that facilitates opportunities for folks to engage in this important volunteer work. In 2020, Repair the World launched our first “Repair the Vote” campaign and engaged 279 volunteers to support the efforts of Power the Polls and VoteRiders, reaching almost 20,000 voters. This year, Repair has continued our Repair the Vote campaign, recruiting volunteers to support free, fair, and safe elections, and has made Election Day an organization-wide day of service for our staff. My colleagues and I will be phone banking to GOTV, serving as poll workers, and more! As an organization whose very name speaks to the Jewish value of repairing the world, tikkun olam, building in a service day to enable every voice to be heard is a no-brainer.

I am left reflecting on one of Repair’s organizational values: kavod ha’briyot, the preciousness of each human. This idea that every person should be respected, cherished, and celebrated for their individuality is exactly why access to free and fair elections is so important. I’m excited to be able to live out this concept by sharing the tools and information people need to be able to vote, and letting their precious voices be heard!

Harriet Rivkin (she/her) is a New York-based nonprofit professional. She is currently the Senior People & Culture Associate at Repair the World. In her free time, Harriet can be found baking banana bread, singing cheesy songs, registering voters, and canvassing for Jennifer Conlin!