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Celebrities are using sly tactics and their star power to encourage their fans to vote in the upcoming 2020 election — whatever it takes, right?
Lady Gaga teased a “new single” Thursday on Twitter and even shared a video of her singing it, but it wasn’t exactly the kind of music fans were used to hearing from her (though it was catchy).
“Do you know how to vote? I know a place you can go. It’s called TurboVote.org,” she sang while seated at a piano. “Have your state or driver’s license, they’ll need your name and birthday and so you all avoid a mess have the last four digits of your social security number.”
The “Chromatica” artist shared a link that directed people to a voter registration website and captioned the video: “Don’t give up ….it’s important your voice is heard!”
Celebrities share enticing selfies to get fans to vote
Other celebrities weren’t as subtle about encouraging folks to register to vote, taking a more overtly persuasive route. On Tuesday, Michael B. Jordan shared a shirtless selfie to social media with no further explanation other than the words “vote early.”
Kylie Jenner, who has almost 200 million Instagram followers, uploaded two bikini photos on Sept. 28 and captioned the post with a link to register to vote.
“But are you registered to vote? click the link in my bio,” Jenner wrote. “Let’s make a plan to vote together.”
On the day Jenner shared her photo, Vote.org got 48,000 users from Instagram to utilize their voter registration tool, whereas the day prior the site only saw 2,900 users, a more than 1500% increase in use via Instagramaccording to Jordan Wilhelmi, a spokesperson for Vote.org.
Due to celebrity interest in promoting voter registration, Vote.org began giving stars personalized links to use starting Oct. 1. Jenner’s link, which she swapped out for the generic Vote.org link in her bio, garnered at least 2,000 new voter registrations and 200 mail-in ballot requests. Wilhemi says these aren’t significantly high numbers, but he also takes into account that Jenner hasn’t actively promoted her unique link since receiving it.
Frank Ocean, who has encouraged his social media followers to check voter registration deadlines and has a link in his Instagram bio, has sparked more than 700 new voter registrations.
Stars dupe fans with voter registration links
The stars also went hard on National Voter Registration Day, sharing more shirtless photos and even teasing a new “Scandal” movie with a link to a non-existent trailer.
Kerry Washington posted a three-second clip to Twitter of her character Olivia Pope sharing a passionate kiss with President Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and captioned it “SCANDAL THE MOVIE. Click the link for more info.” Spoiler: The link did not have any more info, but rather it lead to a voter registration website.
Following suit with duping their followers, “This is Us” star Sterling K. Brown shared an out-of-character shirtless photo.
“Like what you see? There’s more where this came from…,” he tweeted along with a link that also lead followers to a voter registration website, rather than the “more” they wanted.
Voter registration is increasing in 2020
Though celebrities are using playful tactics to influence their fans and followers to vote, U.S. Election Assistance Commission chairman Benjamin Hovland says this tactic has been helpful in informing folks and getting people registered to vote.
“It absolutely matters. It’s great to see them using their platforms to encourage people to get registered to vote, to participate,” Hovland tells USA TODAY, adding that it especially matters this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. He says that usually, the Department of Motor Vehicles is people’s primary way of registering to vote, but since the pandemic has forced those offices to temporarily close or limit their hours earlier this year, there has been a drop in voter registration.
Hovland says he’s personally seen more celebrities doing PSAs around the voting process – especially during National Voter Registration Day – this year in comparison to previous years, which has been a factor in increasing the number of people registering. He added that in 2018, about 800,000 people registered to vote which was a record at the time, and in 2020, about 1.5 million people registered on Sept. 22.
The EAC has also seen a surge in people signing up to be poll workers especially from the younger generation, which Hovland credits Trevor Noah and LeBron James for encouraging people to participate.
“A lot of that was from celebrity amplification,” Hovland says.