The year 2020 has been a historic one in its own right. In the first three quarters of the year we have seen a pandemic, financial crisis, multiple acts of police brutality, an uprise against social injustice, and are in preparation for some of the most powerful natural disasters we have seen in human history. These unprecedented events have led many Americans to cast their attention to the support and leadership that both local and the national governments have given during these times. As November approaches and official nominees are solidified for the 2020 elections, activists and entertainers alike are emphasizing the importance of voter turnout to change the tone the country is currently experiencing.
Due to the pandemic, the usage of absentee ballots is expected to be the highest in this century. This coupled with the growing concern of ballot tampering and voter suppression practices have led Black artists and athletes to use their platforms and resources to aid and encourage citizens, specifically those from under-represented communities to the polls.
Why is this important? Stats pulled by the Pew Research Center found that Black voter turnout fell in the 2016 election to a 20-year low of 59.6% showing up to the polls. This was a decrease from the record high set in the 2012 election of 66.6% participation of Black voters. In comparison to other minority groups this change in voter turnout was considerable. The turnout for Latinx voters remained constant at a rate of 47.6% in 2016 compared to 48.0% in the 2012 election. These staggering numbers have led to increased emphasis from public figures from various industries to encourage minority voters to get to the polls.
Last week, NBA star LeBron James, announced his multi-million dollar initiative to recruit poll workers and volunteers in the November election. In addition to this, many stars such as 2 Chainz, Tracee Ellis Ross, The Roots, and many more have spoken out in partnership with former first lady Michelle Obama’s organization When We All Vote to promote voter participation in presidential and local elections. There was even a portion of the record breaking Verzus between singers Monica and Brandy where democratic VP nominee Kamala Harris encouraged a live audience of over 1 million streamers to get out and vote in the upcoming election.
With the increased concern for public safety in this year alone, the need for civic engagement has been more apparent now more than ever. The use of celebrity platforms to push the importance of voting regardless of political or social beliefs, in my opinion, is a positive use of their influence. Are you looking for information on how to participate in the upcoming election? Check out WhenWeAllVote.org for resources and information on local, state, and federal elections as well as voter registration information.