“Vote or Die.”
It’s the slogan one local group is using on t-shirts to help attract young people to register to vote, but the Democratic Party Chair of Bernalillo County doesn’t want to see it at any of his events.
“You have like three seconds for someone to read a t-shirt when they’re walking by you and I think you can do that with this message,” Dave Mulryan said.
Mulryan is the co-founder of the voting rights group known as Everybody Votes. He said he recently bought the rights to an image from at artist who lives out-of-state. It includes the slogan “Vote or Die” with the added outline of the now extinct Dodo bird.
Mulryan said the idea behind the shirt is to appeal to the younger crowds that want to see a clear and direct message.
The “Vote or Die” campaign originally went viral more than a decade ago.
“You have a responsibility in a democracy to get out there and understand the issues,” Mulryan said. “You have to adapt and you have to vote or else you do die.”
Earlier this month, however, not everyone was pleased with the shirt. Mulryan attended a Democratic forum in the East Mountains as his group had a booth set up, selling the shirts. The chair of the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County, Bill Peifer, sent Mulryan an email following the event. He said in part, “I don’t ever again want to see ‘Vote or Die’ t-shirts being sold” at any party event.
Peifer spoke with KRQE News 13 and explained why.
“We think that the message should be focused on the good things that can happen when you do vote and not a threat if you don’t vote,” he said.
He said overall the shirt portrays a negative image and that the day of the forum, the party received complaints from people who showed up.
“We had small children at the event and it’s not the kind of message the party wants to convey,” he said.
Mulryan said while he respects Peifer’s opinion, but he’s going to continue to sell the shirts, just not at party events. He added, the money made from the shirt sales is used to help register New Mexico students to vote.