Use Your VoiceRegistering Young Voters is On the Rise
As the world seems to spin so rapidly and we’re all in a state of political vertigo, there has never been a more important time to register to vote. In the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
I’m dejected, but only momentarily, when I can’t get the fifth vote for something I think is very important. But then you go on to the next challenge and you give it your all. You know that these important issues are not going to go away. They are going to come back again and again. There’ll be another time, another day. — RBG
Taking to heart the importance of increasing voter registration—and making sure voters actually get out to the polls—organizations like HeadCount are taking an active role in democracy. In the 2016 election, the number of registered voters versus voter population juxtaposed with the staggering account of registered voters who actually voted versus those who stayed away from the polls is unfortunate. Without increased voter turnout we cannot possibly be as effective as we should be in taking an active role in democracy—and that’s where HeadCount comes in.
HeadCount is a non-partisan organization that works with an incredible array of well-known and respected musical artists working together to get the headcount of registered voters at a record high. In the recent 2018 mid-term elections, voter turnout began to pivot towards a resounding effort by voters getting out to the polling stations and submitting ballots-by-mail. We have to keep that momentum for the coming election and every election thereafter.
Voting was a right hard fought to obtain, and is vigorously protected by men and women of every race, culture and religion; those that value the beauty of a fair electoral process. Voting is not simply about choosing a side. It’s about utilizing your voice and your right to be instrumental in the state of your city, state, and country. Our legally elected officials are chosen by the people, tasked with addressing the people’s growing concerns, enforcing or changing current polices that no longer serve the needs of the people, and be effective in positive change. They can’t do their obligated duty to govern effectively if you don’t vote.
Voting is not only a right, it is a great privilege, and while it seems the appeal of that privilege has become cumbersome, it has never mattered more.
The future generations of this great nation will shape the fabric of what is to come, and we need everyone out there doing their part. HeadCount is doing all they can to create larger voter turnouts and encourage those coming of legal voting age to register to vote—and encourage them to actually get out there and vote when elections roll around! Their work with musical artists is creating an actionable response, and their work matters . I had the opportunity to talk to Headcount and ask them about their recent collaboration and partnership with singer/songwriter Billie Eilish and learn more about what they’re doing to make a difference in voter registration.
Q: What inspired your collaboration and partnership with Billie Eilish?
A: Billie represents the next generation of young voters. She pre-registered to vote and has been passionate about the cause.
Q: Why do you there is a voting discrepancy among registered constituents and youth? Is the messaging off point?
A: For many years, the youngest eligible voters have turned out in lower numbers than older people. This has major impact on policy and government priorities, but it’s the youngest voters who have the most at stake.
Q: How can HeadCount get the word out to registered voters AND those that will soon be old enough to vote?
A: Working with artists like Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande is a great way to get word out. They have a truly authentic connection with young people and have shown how much they care about democracy.
Q: With the political tribalism and divisiveness happening in the nation presently, what can HeadCount do to encourage people getting to the polling stations?
A: Well in 2018 we had the highest voter turnout of a midterm election in 100 years. So whatever you say about the state of the country, people are engaged. It’s a time of strong opinions and convictions on all sides of the ideological spectrum.
Q: Does HeadCount currently work with any legislators?
Q: How does HeadCount maintain being non-partisan? And how can your vision help protect the rights we so desperately must preserve (those that seem to be in real danger of being taken away)?
A: We don’t make value judgments on who is right and wrong. Our one value is that participation in democracy is a positive thing. So we’ll definitely speak out on voter rights and we are very engaged in states like Tennessee where the right to stage voter registration drives without government interference is in question. But it’s not about partisan politics.
Q: Now that Eilish is going to be 18, how important is it for other musical artists, like Eilish to get youth to be actionable?
A: We work with hundreds of musicians of all ages, and each of them has a direct impact with their own fan bases. It runs across every kind of music.
Q: How can HeadCount can be instrumental in ensuring the impending elections is one of the largest voting turnouts to date?
A: We have many things planned for 2020. We’ll work with media partners, brands, community organizations and tens of thousands of volunteers to create a real grassroots movement around voting.
Q: What is the outlook for un-registered voters? Is there a game plan in place to get people to the polls?
A: What HeadCount does best is look people right in the eye and ask them to register to vote. We register thousands of unregistered voters this way every month. At Bonnaroo, we set our all time record for a single event, signing up 1,390 voters. Some were changing their address but most were first-timers.
Q: In addition to Billie Eilish and March For Our Lives, what other artists and organizations are you aligned with?
A: Ariana Grande, Dead & Company, Death Cab for Cutie, Dave Matthews Band, Drake, Sia, The Dixie Chicks, Jay-Z and Beyonce are some of our artist partners. We’ve also worked with the ACLU, League of Conservation Voters, and many other non-profit organizations.
Check out this tweet from HeadCount announcing their partnership, which Billie shared with her fans today: https://twitter.com/HeadCountOrg/status/1133822158579392512
Additionally, HeadCount will invite concert-goers under the age of 18 to join the movement by getting them to pledge to be an active voter: actnow.io/billie
Want to learn more about Headcount in their words?
What does HeadCount do?
We stage voter registration drives at concerts and run programs that translate the power of music into real action. By reaching young people and music fans where they already are – at concerts and online – we make civic participation easy and fun. To get a real sense of who we are, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
What has HeadCount pulled off already?
We’ve registered about 500,000 voters since 2004, and built a huge network of 20,000 volunteers nationwide. You’ll find us at more live music events than any non-profit in the world. But it doesn’t end there. We run “Participation Row” social action villages at major festivals and tours, creating an interactive experience around causes and raising over $1 million for various other organizations. We’ve produced themed concerts, network TV public service announcements, and award-winning digital media campaigns starring the likes of Jay-Z, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam and members of The Grateful Dead. A list of our most popular projects can be found here.
How does HeadCount work?
HeadCount is a giant team effort between musicians, concert promoters, and volunteers. We have street teams in most major cities, and affiliations with over 100 touring musicians including Dave Matthews Band, JAY-Z, Wilco, Phish, and the Dixie Chicks, just to name a few. Whenever they play a concert in a major city, our street teams are there registering voters. All over the country, almost every night of the week, our volunteers are at live music events registering voters and rallying other music fans to take control of our democracy. We also work directly with many festivals, concert venues and partners to help extend our reach. At some events we have an even larger presence, running “Participation Row” social action villages or managing philanthropic programs that help music fans give back to their surrounding communities.
Who makes it happen?
Our board of directors includes Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead and many music and political heavyweights. They oversee a small full-time staff based in New York City. But the engine of HeadCount is really volunteers. Thousands of amazing people, coast-to-coast, forming a unique and tight-knit community of socially-conscious music fans. Check out our Who’s Who page to see their photos, bios and words.
What do HeadCount volunteers do?
Some register voters at concerts. Others go a step further and take on leadership roles. What we’re most proud of is that our volunteers consistently get noticed for their outstanding work ethic and abilities. More than two dozen have landed full-time jobs with some of our partners! And all our volunteers get to see lots of shows and meet cool people who share a love of music and democracy. Visit our volunteer page or opportunities page if you’d like to join the team!