Election Season Is Here: Music Partnerships Increase Voter Turnout

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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – AUGUST 02: A voter takes a selfie with an “I voted” sticker after voting in the Missouri Primary Election at the National WWI Museum and Memorial on August 02, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. Voters in Missouri are voting on Primary Election Day with the Senate being states top race after the retirement of Republican Roy Blunt. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

The midterm election is only four weeks away,  with all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 36 of the 100 Senate seats up for a vote. While the majority of voters take to the polls every four years during Presidential elections, many skip over the just-as-important midterms. 

Organizations like #iVoted, When We All Vote, HeadCount and more have been teaming up with artists to try and inspire younger audiences to not only register to vote, but actually cast their ballots.

The importance of voting is not lost on many in the music industry. #iVoted Festival has partnered with Live Nation, AEG and more than 400 artists to donate tickets to shows for those who cast their ballots. Vote Early Day has also seen numerous partnerships with music organizations to encourage fans to vote, including recently announced performances and talks with Billie Eilish, Phinneas Tom Morello and W. Kamau Bell, and more. 

Early voting has already begun in several states, including Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming. Already, the #iVoted Early Sweepstakes has surpassed 500 submissions since Sept. 26 from fans who have voted early – a surprising number considering midterm elections see lower turnout compared to presidential elections, and the majority of people vote the week of the election.

“The fact that we already have people entering is amazing because, for #iVoted Festival 2020, we opened RSVP a few days before election day and we maybe had 30 people the first day, 60 the second day, and then tens of thousands the day before and on election day. So to already have hundreds of people entering the system is really exciting,” says #iVoted CEO, Emily White,  who started the organization after learning that her home state of Wisconsin’s election was decided by a mere 20,000 votes – enough to fill an arena.  

For dedicated voters who cast their ballots every election, the question remaining each cycle is how to get more involved. #iVoted Festival and Vote Early Day help music organizations who want to do more direct their resources towards causes that can make a difference.  

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GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND – JUNE 24: Billie Elish performs on the main Pyramid Stage at the 2022 Glastonbury Festival during day three of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton on June 24, 2022 in Glastonbury, England. The festival, founded in 1970, has grown into one of the largest outdoor green field festivals in the world. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

“We’ve worked with many different organizations that have incredible connections with performers, entertainers and influencers to make sure we’re meeting partners where they are,” Vote Early Day’s project manager, Bryce Bennett, tells Pollstar. “That has always been the goal of Vote Early Day – to make sure that it’s not just the people who are political junkies who are always going to get a million reminders to vote between now and  election day. 

“We want to make sure everybody has the same information and knows how and when and where they can cast their ballot. Bringing entertainers on board, people that are able to connect with folks and break through the noise of politics as usual goes a long way to making sure that message lands.”

In September, Live Nation Women’s President/Chief Strategy Officer, Ali Harnell, helped put on “Beautiful Noise Live: When All Women Vote Week Of Action” –  featuring panels, workshops and concerts from Brandi Carlile and Alicia Keys –  to mobilize women to vote in their interests. The week-long event was held in Atlanta, as Georgia is a critical state in the midterm election.

Work, family life and other commitments can make it hard to find time to research what to vote on. But the importance of following through on this civic duty is essential. Local elections can be just as important as those on the federal level, with lasting effects.

“I like to think that every election presents an important opportunity for every American to have their say about how they’re going to be represented,” Bennett says. “Just as much as last year’s election was an important way for us to decide who will be the leaders in each of our local communities who will govern our day-to-day lives, this is an important election that is going to decide what our nation is going to look like.” 

Many artists have been using their star power to encourage fans to vote. Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Lizzo, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Anderson .Paak, Bonnie Raitt, Dead & Company and many more have partnered with HeadCount to encourage fans to register to vote at their shows.

The organization has registered more than 150,000 voters ahead of the midterms. 

“The number one thing that determines if people vote is community,” White says. “Just spreading the word to friends, colleagues, family, church, synagogue, whatever. … Make sure everyone in your life is voting because there is social pressure. Data supports that. … Make sure folks are registered to vote, that they know they can vote early … [and] have a backup plan to vote. ” 

To learn more about what’s on your ballot and ensure you’re registered to vote, visit vote.org. Citizens can also sign up to become poll workers or canvas in their hometowns