Crescent Ballroom has always been as much about community as music. And that hasn’t changed since COVID-19 forced the downtown Phoenix club to close its doors in March.
As Charlie Levy, who opened the 550-person capacity venue in 2011, said, “Since we’ve been closed because of COVID, we’ve really used our social media to highlight worthy causes around the state.”
It’s in that spirit that Crescent’s website will be helping the community prepare for the election with “Everything You Need to Know About Voting in 2020: An Easy Guide by Crescent Ballroom.”
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The guide went live Oct. 6, a day before early voting starts in Arizona.
How Crescent Ballroom has been involved before
It’s not the first time the venue has served as a resource for voters.
In 2018, as Levy recalls, “I got together a group of people that were into politics and policy to come up with a very simple guide to all the local propositions and put it in plain language that even a dummy like me can understand.”
That guide got 80,000 page views.
“It blew me away,” Levy said.
This year, a major focus of the guide will be providing the community with information on how to vote in the midst of a global pandemic.
“I think a lot of people are a little bit confused on how to vote, the different ways to vote, the voting centers, early ballots, when can you bring them in, mail-in ballots, all that good stuff that’s been in the news lately,” Levy said.
Site presents information voters can use
They’ve put together what Levy feels is “a pretty plainspoken” Q&A with links.
“So if you want to make sure you’re registered to vote, or you want to vote by mail, or what are the dates? We’re answering a lot of those questions with the resources to make sure you can vote in this election because everyone knows, it’s so important to vote.”
He’s always amazed by how low voter turnout is in the United States.
“It blows me away that in the last presidential election, only 60% of people voted,” Levy said. “And a lot of people that don’t vote are younger people.”
It’s estimated that 50% of U.S. citizens between the age of 18-29 participated in the 2016 presidential election.
“So we just want to make sure that people that are first-time voters or that don’t vote all the time aren’t intimidated and can get information in one place pretty simply,” Levy says.
There’s also a section on state propositions (what they’re all about, who supports them, who doesn’t) and information on the judges on the ballot.
“We use places like ballotpedia.org or we’ll just go ahead and share different opinion pieces about the propositions,” Levy said. “So that people can make up their own minds.”
Levy hopes to encourage young voters to get involved
It’s Levy’s hope that Crescent Ballroom can help get those younger voters more involved.
“Obviously, we get a lot of people under 25 to a lot of these shows,” he said.
“And then they follow us on social media, so we have a direct line to them that some other places might not have. We can go right to those people that are looking at our Instagram or Facebook and say, ‘Hey, if you have any confusion about voting, go to crescentphx.com.'”
Levy himself plans on dropping his ballot at a vote center in this election.
“I’m gonna put in my address and find the nearest vote center, so I can just drop my ballot off next week, and not even put it in the mail,” he said.
“That’s my preference. There’s vote centers all over the state. And this will make them easily accessible to you. What’s the closest one. What are the times? What are their COVID policies? There’s some really good stuff the state’s doing to make it easier to vote, and we just want to spread that information.”
Crescent Ballroom may consider outdoor shows
When Pearl Jam announced a vote-by-mail initiative last month, Eddie Vedder wrote, “This is the most important election in our nation’s history. Our democracy is at risk. Your vote is your voice, and it’s time to use it.”
Levy prefers to say every election is important.
“I think the biggest thing I’ve learned in my advanced age is elections matter,” he said. “Elections set policy and agenda. Our public officials represent us and we need to make sure that we put in the best representatives we can.”
As to when live music might return to Crescent Ballroom in a year defined by social distancing, they may be opening the patio as the weather breaks.
“Right now, we’re discussing it with the team,” he said. “And making sure we do everything the best way that we can.”
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: ‘Voting in 2020’: Downtown Phoenix’s Crescent Ballroom is offering voters an online guide