Every election cycle, campaigns tote out a cache of celebrities to appeal to young people and other voters. Last month, Rock the Vote released a public service announcement (PSA) that parodied the popular Lil Jon music video “Turn Down for What” that featured celebrities explaining why they planned to vote and encouraging young people to vote, too. The problem is that some of the same celebrities in the “Turn Out For What” PSA didn’t actually vote. Perhaps Rock the Vote needed to vet their talent a bit better.
The Washington Post broke the story after investigating several of the celebrities in the video. They were unable to confirm the voting records of all of those featured but did confirm that at least four had not voted in the previous midterms.
Comedian Whoopi Goldberg, “Girls” actress Lena Dunham, actor Darren Criss, “Orange is the New Black” actress Natasha Lyonne, and “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” star E.J. Johnson all reportedly did not vote in the last midterm election.
Perhaps they were too busy four years ago and for some of them they were hardly stars, but it does reflect a larger concern for those on the left looking to turn out young voters: it’s a challenge. My generation is impassioned about many causes, but can that passion be turned into turnout?
The Daily Mail reports:
Asked about the apparent hypocrisy displayed by the celebrities who were determined not to have took part in the last midterm election, a spokeswoman for non-profit Rock the Vote said the stars had committed to voting this time around, and that's all that matters.
'Rock The Vote's approach is forward-looking,' Audrey Gelman told The Washington Post in an email.
'The talent who participate in our campaigns are registered to vote and have pledged to turn out this Tuesday and in upcoming elections,' she added.
'We believe individuals who have missed opportunities to vote in the past should not be disqualified from committing to participate in the political process in the future, and helping spread a positive message of civic engagement.'
The non-partisan get out the vote organization released a star-studded video spoofing Lil Jon's summer hit Turn Down for What last month as part of its campaign to get young people to the polls on Election Day.
In the parody, Lil Jon goes to his area polling place to cast his vote. He bumps Dunham and celebrity trainer Tracy Andersen while there.
During a dance interlude later in the video Dunham drops her pants and hops around in her underwear as other popular celebs stop by to explain why they plan to vote on Election Day.
I’m not sure what is more embarrassing, Lena Dunham dropping her pants in the video or that Dunham and company failed to vote the last time but are encouraging young people to do the same. This is embarrassing for Rock the Vote and they’ve tried their best to save face by claiming they are forward looking, but the real challenge is youth turnout overall. Only a quarter of 18-29 year olds voted in the last midterm elections including some of the same celebrities in the Rock the Vote video. About the same percentage plan to vote today.
Low turnout is expected to be bad for Democrats and liberals. As we reported, according to a Harvard study of millennial voters very likely to head to the polls, slightly more than half (51 percent) prefer a Republican-led Congress – a significant departure from when 55 percent preferred a Democrat-run Congress in 2010.
The Wall Street Journal posits today’s election as a battle between the young and the old as both make up over one quarter of the electorate. If young people skew liberal and older, retirees skew conservative, it might seem a wash. The problem is youth turnout overall will be low and of those young people predicted to turn out today, the energy is among young conservatives. We'll see what tonight holds.