Remember when MTV began running continuous campaigns to “Rock the Vote” in 1990? Despite super stars like Madonna advocating the importance of young people getting out to the polls, voters under 30 were still largely absent from the democratic process.
In 2010, the last midterm election, less than 25% of voters ages 18 to 29 bothered to cast a ballot. Eva Guidarini of the Harvard Institute of Politics paints an bleaker prediction for the future. Her research concludes that 23% of people under 30 are expected to vote this year.
Barack Obama seemed to fire up the youth in 2008. No doubt, young people were interested in being part of history by voting for the first black president of the United States. Millennial voting reached an apex in 2008 with 52% casting a ballot. However, by 2012, that number dropped to 45%.
So what’s being done to change the apathetic attitude of the young? Rapper Lil Jon, Whoopi Golberg, Fred Armisen, and Lena Dunham are featured in an online music video called Turn Out For What, which is a parody off Lil Jon’s song Turn Down For What.
The message of the video essentially asks what is important to you. What is going to drive you to the polls? Is it gun control? Marriage equality? Immigration? Student debt? Climate change? Lil Jon is “turning out” for the legalization of marijuana.
So far the campaign seems to be working. “There are over 130 million people that watched the Turn Out For What video on YouTube, and our goal is to make voting as popular as the song,” said Rock The Vote spokeswoman Audrey Gelman. She continued, “We love the idea of turning a party anthem into an anthem for civic engagement.”
The true test of the video’s efficiency will come on November 4, the midterm election. Although Gelman admitted that voter turnout across all age groups is traditionally lower during the midterm election because there aren’t presidential candidates on the ballot.