Some time in 2010, an activist by the name of Billy Wimsatt threw out the idea for a nationwide day of voter registration for the Midterm Elections. Like many good ideas, it went through a few twists and turns. Balls got handed off. Balls got dropped. It took two years to finally come together. And boy did it come together.
On September 25th, 2012, HeadCount joined nearly 2,000 organizations around the U.S. to stage the first ever National Voter Registration Day. Our volunteers “hit the streets” in over 30 cities, bringing voter registration everywhere from college campuses to subway stations (view photo album).
HeadCount artists got into the act too. In case you missed it, about 200 musicians, comics and actors took photos holding up our “Register to Vote” clipboards, and tweeted and posted them on Facebook. Each included a link to a page on our website where you can register to vote. (Check out the gallery in Rolling Stone).
The result? In one day we registered around 40,000 people!!! And the totals from all of National Voter Registration Day are in the neighborhood of 200,000.
Every individual who participated had a different experience, and every organization has a different story. Here are some of our highlights:
• The day started with Stephen Colbert’s tweet and photo. That one tweet registered more voters than any tweet all day!
• We got some serious star power going as the day went on. John Legend. George Lopez (who changed his Twitter avatar to his photo). Edward Norton. Tenacious D. Bonnie Raitt. Sarah Silverman. Cyndi Lauper. Susan Sarandon. Lewis Black. They all posted their photos with register-to-vote links on Facebook, and tweeted with the hashtag #925nvrd.
• In Boston, we were joined by the Harvard Institute of Politics who sent about 15 volunteers, and registered 89 voters!
• Phish posted separate photos of Mike Gordon and Trey Anastasio. Lots of familiar faces got in the act, Michael Franti, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Jack Johnson, Warren Haynes, My Morning Jacket, SCI, Death Cab for Cutie, and Keller Williams. So did, of course, our board members Bob Weir, Marc Brownstein of the Disco Biscuits and John McCrea of CAKE. Festivals like Bonnaroo, Summer Camp, Newport Folk, All Good, High Sierra and Mountain Jam also posted various photos and links.
• In Nashville, our team visited 3 different college campuses and registered 152 students. Our Team Leader said it felt like she was on “the best, most fun, most patriotic damn reality show ever!”
• Dave Matthews’ “eye on voting” photo got a big response (18,000 likes). So did the special release of the video for ‘Mercy,” that ended with Dave writing out “Register to Vote” on a pad. But nothing was bigger than Linkin Park’s Facebok post, which got over 100,000 likes from all over the world. Big props to our friends at REVERB, who brought Linkin Park, Jason Mraz, Brandi Carlisle and a bunch of others into the campaign.
• In New York’s Herald Square (right by the HeadCount office) we were out there all day and registered 450 voters. Special thanks to our officemates from Relix and CID Entertainment for helping out.
• Hours before the Jason Mraz show at Red Rocks, threatening weather forced a cancellation of all non-profit village activity. Our volunteers were given free tickets to the show, and decided to bring their clipboards anyway and registered voters without a table or booth.
• Just around 5 PM, 50 Cent posted to his 24 million Facebook fans! Registrations were also pouring in from fans of The Black Keys, Derek Trucks, Matt and Kim, Rise Against, Amanda Palmer, The Head and the Heart, and comedian Patton Oswalt, who all generated some of the biggest online numbers of the day.
• At night in DC, members of Antibalas came out into the crowd at the Black Cat and helped us register their fans to vote. This followed the staff of the All Good Festival joining us at other DC-area outposts.
Those are just a few of the many highlights from this incredible day. We wish to thank everyone involved, especially the amazing people at The Bus Federation, Voto Latino and Nonprofit Vote who were the lead organizers of NVRD.
A long list of thank yous for the clipboard photos can be found here. But most of all we want to recognize all the HeadCount team leaders who made NVRD happen in the field, and their fearless leaders Tappan Vickery and Laurie Lenninger. Their names are listed below:
HeadCount NVRD Team Leaders:
Abby Brazina – Philadelphia, PA
Angie Ahlstrom – Phoenix, AZ
Ann King – Seattle, WA
Brett Weinstein – Washington, D.C.
Cady Clasby- Los Angeles, CA
Celia and Yancey Gregory – Nashville, TN
Chelsea Germer – New Jersey
Chris Kelly – Los Angeles, CA
Chris Reed – Washington, D.C.
Damian Zamora – Tucson, AZ
Dan Conroe – Chicago, IL
Dan Ellithorpe – Syracuse, NY
Emily Munroe – Asheville, NC
Eric Hoke – Boston, MA
Ginger Lanham – Cincinnati, OH
Heather Gregoire – Madison, WI
Holly and Jeffrey Bowling – San Fran, CA
James Martin – Portland, OR
Jason Gershuny – Portland, OR
Jeff & Lisa Simmonds – Albany, NY
John Duguay and Meryl Kremer – Connecticut
Jon Perri and Megan Strauss – San Francisco, CA
Jonathan Brothers – New Orleans/Baton Rouge, LA
Jory Steinman – Minneapolis, MN
Joseph Moncada – Chicago , IL
JR Wotring – Columbus, OH
Julie Whelan – Raleigh, NC/Wilco Tour
Logan Randall – Flagstaff, AZ
McCailin Wunder – Charlottesville, VA
Megan Buchheit – Houston, TX
Melissa Brennan – College Park, MD
Michael Simon – Chicago, IL
Michael Toler – Boston, MA
Mitchell Burdett – Seattle, WA
Nichole Miller – Cleveland, OH
Omeed Tablini – Washington, D.C.
Paige Audia – San Diego, CA
Pat Daley – New York, NY
Phil Barney – Las Vegas, NV
Pia Valeriana – Denver, CO
Racheal Griffin-Jackson – Athens, FL
Sam D’Arcangelo – New York, NY
Samantha Dancis – Amherst, MA
Samantha Torres – Orlando, FL
Sara Pugh – Indianapolis, IN
Sean Crossland – Salt Lake City, UT
Sonia Verma – Washington, DC
Tim Johnson – Boulder, CO
Tim McCormick – Denver, CO
On a personal note, I want to say that in the nine years since we launched HeadCount, I have never been more humbled and honored by the outpouring of support we received for NVRD, and the incredible work done by so many people. Much love to you all for making what we do possible.
– Andy Bernstein, Executive Director