Today, September 23rd is National Voter Registration Day, and in an attempt to garner as many thousands of young voters as possible for the upcoming election day, both HeadCount and Rock the Vote have recruited dozens of bands, such as Phish, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam, Jeff Tweedy and more to help rouse millennials, people who have never before voted, and people of color to get themselves registered so that they can make their perspectives heard during the midterm elections. The artists, ranging from musicians such as Skrillex, to Weird Al Yankovic, to Greg Allman, to Snoop Dog, to Fergie, and celebrities ranging from the likes of John Stewart, to Stephen Colbert, to John Oliver, to Susan Sarandon, are all featured holding a sign advising, “Register to Vote Here,” on HeadCount’s Facebook page. With each photo is a link to an online Voter Registration form powered by Rock the Vote, helping to further the group’s mission: “HeadCount is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization dedicated to voter registration and inspiring participation in democracy through the power of music.”
HeadCount, an impartial organization co-created by Marc Brownstein of the Disco Biscuits, has helped to register more than 300,000 people since 2004, and continues to run programs that utilize the power of music to cause real action by holding voter registration drives at concerts. Rock the Vote, whose mission states that “We’re working to build political power for young people by registering them to vote, getting them involved in politics, and empowering them to run their own action campaigns,” will be hosting an event in celebration of National Voter Registration Day at Appalachian State University in North Carolina today (complete with registration drive and a concert by Brooklyn band Les Racquet). For those of you thinking seriously about getting involved in the “creative activations fusing pop culture and politics,” search for and use the hashtag #CelebrateNVRD. Currently, Rock the Vote’s Facebook page features images and memes in a similar vein to HeadCount’s, but also makes references to movies known for their intense deadlines, such as Speed and Wolf on Wall Street.
Musicians and artists have often used their celebrity in support of a political or civil cause. Some are involuntary, such as the petition for Weird Al to perform the 2015 Super Bowl Halftime show and others are much more intentional, like the many musical responses to the events of Ferguson. While many citizens argue that their voices become inaudible, so why bother voting, these artists are certainly in support of participating in this year’s midterm elections.