Lindsey Romano ’21
On Nov. 6, citizens of the United States who are older than 18 will be given the opportunity to vote on important decisions involving acts/propositions, government positions and local authority. In the weeks leading up to this day, anyone 16 or older is eligible to pre-register, and anyone who is turning 18 by Election Day can register to vote.
One influence that has gotten many new voters to register is the increasing campaigns of numerous public figures. These influencers use their large following to encourage the youth to have a say through voting.
One recent example of this is found in an Oct. 7 Instagram post by Taylor Swift. She emphasized the importance of voting and directed her followers to the website in which they could do so. With over 112 million followers, the post received over 2 million likes.
“For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree one hundred percent on every issue, but we have to vote anyway,” said Swift on her Instagram. “So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past 2 years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count.”
Voting.org witnessed an influx in registration to vote after Swift began this campaign. Director of communications for the national registration website, Kamari Guthrie, stated in an article by CNN that after Swift encouraged her followers to vote, the registration count was “up by 65,000 registrations in a single 24-hour period.”
Swift has kept the movement to vote going by currently featuring people who tag her in a picture of themselves with their “I Voted” sticker and #justvoted.
“The singer has been scrutinized in recent years for what many perceived as a failure to use her far-reaching platform to discuss politics and current events,” stated an article by Washington Post.
While Taylor Swift may have a large platform, many other celebrities have aided in encouraging voting registration. Notable names include Reese Witherspoon, Beyoncé, Tom Hanks, Troian Bellisario, Michelle Obama, Faith Hill and Oprah.
“We know that we’ve lived long enough to understand that this is a really important moment in our country,” said Oprah through a video posted on Instagram on Oct. 30. “It’s more than your civic duty. It’s your responsibility as a human being. Our country depends on it.”
Nowadays, many people tend to check social media sites for their news. Celebrities post videos of themselves with a caption encouraging their followers to vote, and because many people have easy access to this, it encourages them to register.
On the contrary, many figures use their platforms to voice their political opinions. In Swift’s Instagram post, she explains why she will not be voting for Tennessee Senate member, Marsha Blackburn.
“She voted against equal pay for women,” said Swift in her post. “She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act…she believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry.”
By posting their political views, the celebrities sway their followers to vote for who they believe in. In some cases, posts online have a goal to sway an opinion and encourage followers only under the notion that they vote for the candidate the celebrity endorse.
One election where this was particularly prominent was in the 2016 presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, when figures tended to encourage voting for Hilary through #imwithher.
“Donald Trump is unfit for the office of president,” said singer John Legend in a Twitter post on Nov. 8, 2016. “Fortunately, there’s an exceptionally qualified candidate @hillaryclinton”
The growing digital age has become significant as to why new voters are seen on election day, often preparing to vote for the person they read about on social media.
“Celebrities are able to motivate young people to seek further information and to take part,” stated an article written by The Conversation, an online news site that covers world issues. “However, this is less true of first-time voters. Those who are less politically savvy or poorly informed are also more likely to vote for a political party endorsed by a celebrity.”