Voting in the upcoming election is utterly crucial for Americans and for the future of a country in desperate need of competence, leadership and even a desperate glimmer of intelligence in their President.
Millions have already cast their ballot in what has been described as an election that “could lead to record-shattering turnout,” highlighting the energised electorate, spurred on by almost four years of scandal and slander across the executive and legislature branches of government.
But while Trump has used social media to stir up controversies, shape months of news narratives and spread outrageous misinformation, recent months has seen creative and inspired ways of using the online platforms for good: getting out to vote.
Registration for the Nation
As voting rights activist, Stacey Abrams points out, the United States does not have automatic voter registration across the board, and “is one of the few democratized, industrialized nations that uses the piecemeal, inconsistent, state-by-state method of registration—and that puts the onus on the citizen to get on the rolls.”
As a result, every election year there is a concerted effort to get voters to remember to register in order to give them the best possible chance to have their voices heard come Election Day. This year, more than ever, the effort is loud and proud, and it seems to be working.
Social media sites used their prominence in people’s digital lives to inform and guide voters on voting information, former First Lady Michelle Obama joined in conversation with actress and singer Zendaya to answer questions in an Instagram Live on the topic, and social influencers are even getting in on the act.
David Dobrik, the YouTube star with over 18 million subscribers, used his influence and huge platform to entice people to register to vote with a Tesla car up for grabs for a lucky winner.
This lead to over 120,000 new voter registrations – one of the largest ever voter registration drives. This is a huge boost to the numbers but unsurprising given the prize at stake, his huge base of followers and the fact that 70% of teens now apparently trust influencers more than traditional celebrities, giving creators and influencers like Dobrik a huge sway on his following.
But more traditional celebrities like Kylie Jenner – one of the biggest names in social media and popular culture in general, also did her bit in her own way to get voters on board, leading to 48,000 new voter registrations and a 1,500% surge in traffic to the official vote.org site with a couple of bikini pictures to drive up attention and engagement on a voter information link in her Instagram bio.
Lady Gaga created a cheesy voting song, Michael B Jordan posted a shirtless thirst-trap to encourage his followers to “vote early”, and Ariana Grande bribed fans with a new album as long as they go out and vote, just to name a few examples.
This huge push from a range of big players meant that National Voter Registration Day registered 1.5 million voters, breaking all-time records with the hashtag #NationalVoterRegistrationDay trending number one on Twitter on the day.
AOC in on the Social Action
But not to be outdone by celebrities and influencers, the political super-power and social media master that is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has now jumped on a huge wave of popularity for the game ‘Among Us’, to start a Twitch channel to stream herself playing the game in order to “get out the vote” for the election.
Taylor Lorenz wrote a great piece on the rise in popularity of the game where she talks about how a huge online community of ‘Among Us’ fans have taken over the internet with memes and general content based on the game which has almost universal appeal. The easy-to-play escapism has drawn in major YouTube stars, TikTok influencers and streamers, and now AOC.
Since hearing about the game (the sudden rise in interest and searches can be seen above), Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her idea about streaming it soon, and was inundated with interest, offers to help and people keen to play alongside her.
Soon after, she set up a Twitch channel, has immediately gained a quarter of a million followers on the platform (and counting), and has her scheduled stream tonight alongside two other regular streamers, driving traffic to the iwillvote.com site.
It’s content from AOC, so it’s bound to be fun, informative, creative and important. A politician on Twitch to get young voters engaged and invigorated for the critical election in a couple of weeks. It’s the future, and it’s exciting!
Update: The broadcast became one of the biggest streams ever, with over 400,000 viewers watching it live at one point, and she has now gained over 550k subscribers on the platform with her 3 hour broadcast bringing in 4.6 million views and counting.
Fellow Congresswoman and member of The Squad got in on the action and streamed the game with AOC, with a great photo of her gaming set up below!
If you have a spare 3.5 hours, check out the stream here!