As this year’s highly contentious midterm elections play an important role in determining the course of politics on state, local, and federal levels, many celebrities are campaigning for their favorite candidates and many are encouraging their fans to also engage in the democratic process by casting their vote- regardless of political party or affiliation.
Long before Taylor Swift and Kanye West encouraged people to participate in the democratic process (both in their own….unique…ways), Sean “P. Diddy” Combs led the “Vote or Die!” initiative in 2004, flying on a private jet that he nicknamed “Air Force Change” from New York to Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Miami on a three-day tour to inform young people and minorities that voting is important and, well, “sexy,” according to a 2004 Today Show profile on the artist, who throughout the campaign, refused to endorse either candidate (Bush or Kerry) at the time.
Yet before “P. Diddy” or even “Puff Daddy” was a household name, one of the oldest nonpartisan organizations, “Rock the Vote,” was founded in 1990 by Virgin Records America Co-Chairman Jeff Ayeroff, to encourage young people to vote. The organization has dedicated the past three decades to promoting voter registration and education through their numerous campaigns, mostly dedicated to providing resources aimed at helping people understand how and where to vote as well as presenting unbiased explanations of major campaign issues. Over the years, Rock the Vote has been supported by Lenny Kravitz, Pearl Jam, and other musicians, celebrities, and athletes- many of who have plugged the importance of voting at their concerts, events, or social media. Most recently, Jaren Jackson Jr., the newest member of the Memphis Grizzlies, showcased his passion for voting on NBA draft night with a custom Rock the Vote lined jacket.
Harnessing the power of social media and social influence, MTV recently announced their newest “+1 the Vote” campaign in hopes of harnessing the power of friendship and ignite the most powerful voting bloc in the country among young voters after a research study showed that “76% of young people think inviting friends to the polling station is an effective way to encourage others to vote.”
Other Hip-Hop artists who shared their voting on social media in years past and encouraged others to do the same include Russell Simmons, Chance the Rapper, Fergie, Lil Jon, Alicia Keys, and Queen Latifah, who summarized the importance of participating in the democratic process quite succinctly in a 2014 tweet: “Make it your duty and use your power for GOOD to go out and vote today!”
In 2016, after performing a free concert in Chicago’s Grant Park, Chance the Rapper led hundreds of crowd members from the concert to an early voting location in the city on the night before Election Day, an effort dubbed the “Parade to the Polls” that may have led to a 24 percent increase in early voting rates from 2008, according to Cook County officials.
While most celebrities haven’t shared the specifics of their voting day plans yet, Frankie Grande recently announced that he would be bringing his sister, Arianna Grande, as his plus one to the polling stations this year. While Ashanti is also a “+1 the Vote” campaign promoter, there’s no word yet on who she plans to bring to the polling stations or how she is getting there.
Perhaps Diddy has a plane that she can borrow?
Whether you go to the polling station by private plane, car, bus, bike, or foot, be sure to share your early voting and voting day selfies with us. After all, if some of the industry’s biggest names can find time to cast their votes for change, you can too!