Gregor von Westphalen gets some advice on posing from Stephanie Cooper, with the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, in using the commission’s “18 In 2018” augmented-reality mural on the wall of 191 Toole.

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission is making a push to sign up millennials to vote ahead of the November elections with the help from a special mural that was placed on a downtown Tucson building popular with young people.

The commission is betting young adults will want to take videos of themselves in front of the “augmented reality” mural that — when viewed through a smartphone — adds animated colorful wings to their bodies while birds fly around them. Once using the app, the commission hopes users will then take a few minutes to follow a link on their smartphones that registers them to vote.

A special phone app is needed for the “18 in 2018” experience.  

Gina Roberts, the voter-education manager for the commission, said it is making an effort to reach a younger demographic. Census figures indicate that 18- to 29-year-olds lag behind older generations in both voter registration and going to the polls.

“We wanted to capitalize on the fact that the next generation of voters is going to be turning 18 this year,” she said. “We know, with this particular group, is that we have to meet them where they are.”

And what better place than in a live-music venue in downtown Tucson?

The “Take Flight” mural was recently put on the side of 191 Toole, at 191 E. Toole Ave., an all-ages music venue, giving young fans something to do before the venue opens at night.

Phoenix artist Lauren Lee painted three sets of wings for the mural. Each of the wings was then photographed in order to be turned into an augmented-reality animation that people can see through their phones when they stand in front of a pair of colorful wings that are placed on a wall of the building.

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Lee has created a similar mural for the commission in Phoenix.

It is that little extra, Roberts reasons, that might get the attention of young adults to register to vote.

The voter project relies on a popular app known as Shazam, which is best known for helping people identify songs playing nearby.

The app must be downloaded onto a phone for it to be used with the mural.

“So through the Shazam app, they get to see the wings take flight,” Roberts said.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson


Joe has been with the Star for six years. He covers politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona. He graduated from the UA and previously worked for the Arizona Daily Sun.