HeadCount offers Bonnaroo attendees opportunity to participate in democracy

Photo and story by Andrew Wigdor / MTSU Seigenthaler News Service

While enjoying the music, atmosphere and fun, Bonnaroo attendees had a chance to make a difference in local and general elections this year.

HeadCount, a nonpartisan organization that partners with musicians to promote participation in democracy, sent over 20 volunteers to Bonnaroo this year to sign up attendees to vote and receive local election alerts.

“Young people, statistically speaking, don’t participate in voting at the rate that older people do,” said Aaron Ghitelman, the HeadCount director of communications. “HeadCount wants to make it easy for young people to participate. Where are young people, and where do young people go? One of those places is music festivals, with Bonnaroo being the music festival of all music festivals.”

Millenials are expected to surpass baby boomers as the largest living generation in America in 2019. Despite this, the actual amount of eligible millennials that vote is consistently lower than their baby boomer counterparts. 51 percent of eligible millennials voted in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center. This is an increase from millennial voter participation in 2012, where only 46 percent of millennials voted, but still far under baby boomer turnout, which came to 69 percent in 2016.

Ghitelman, however, stated that HeadCount has had tremendous success in getting young people to register at Bonnaroo.

“Bonnaroo 2016 still holds the record for when HeadCount registered the most voters,” Ghitelman said. “We registered over 1,300 voters.”

HeadCount also partnered with TurboVote to sign Bonnaroo attendees up for local election alerts.

“I think it’s truly important to make politics more accessible for people,” said Kim Selig, the HeadCount field director. “By making it accessible and fun at Bonnaroo, we’re making it a bigger movement.”

Selig, who was volunteering at the HeadCount Bonnaroo tent on Thursday, said that the organization has had a very positive response from Bonnaroo attendees who are hoping to get involved.

“People are so kind here,” Selig said. “The Bonnaroo community are such good, kind people. We’ve had a lot of good responses.”

Kaitlin Block, a Bonnaroo attendee who passed by the HeadCount tent with her brother, said that the process was surprisingly simple.

“We thought it would be a lot harder, but it was super easy,” said Block, a Paris, Illinois resident. “Why not get involved if it’s so easy? We will determine our own future by electing who represents us.”

Block’s brother, Cooper, recently turned 18 and decided to use the opportunity at Bonnaroo to register for the first time.

“Our opinions matter,” Cooper said. “It’s important to voice your opinion in the country we live in.”

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