Rock the Vote

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rock the Vote
Founded1990 in Los Angeles[1]
FocusVoter registration, youth voting
Area served
United States
MethodOnline mobilization, field organizing, entertainment community

Rock the Vote is a non-profit liberal[2] organization in the United States. Through registering new young voters, the group aims to "channel the energy among young people around racial, economic, and health justice into one of the most powerful actions they can take: voting."[3]

The organization was founded in 1990 by Virgin Records America Co-Chairman Jeff Ayeroff to encourage young Americans to vote.[4] It is geared toward increasing voter turnout among voters ages 18 to 24.[5][6] Rock the Vote is known for its celebrity spokespeople and its partnership with MTV.[7]


Rock the Vote was founded in 1990 by Jeff Ayeroff with Virgin America co-chair Jordan Harris and Virgin executive Beverly Lund. Later, they hired Jodi Uttal and then Steve Barr, a campaign worker and political fundraiser, who became co-founders for their contribution to Rock the Vote.

Rock the Vote

Initially, Rock the Vote delivered its voter registration message by staffing tents at music festivals and concerts.[8][9]

In 1991, their message was broadcast on MTV with Madonna's Rock the Vote Public Service Announcements (PSA) where she literally wrapped herself in the American flag.[10][11] That same year, Barr, on behalf of Rock the Vote, testified before congress to support pending voter registration legislation.[12]

Rock the Vote supported the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, commonly referred to as the "motor voter" bill, which expanded access to voter registration. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The law requires state governments to offer voter registration opportunities to any eligible person who applies for or renews a driver's license or public assistance.[13]

In 1996, Rock the Vote created the first telephone voter registration system, 1-800-REGISTER, followed by the first online voter-registration system, NetVote, later that year.[14]

"We supported Rock the Vote", said Radiohead's Thom Yorke, "but – because of the way the whole political system works – it does seem rather odd to be choosing between one unworkable, outdated system and another. We need to go beyond that – because, at the moment, it's just Cowboys and Indians".[15]

With CNN, Rock the Vote organized "America Rocks the Vote", a 2003 Democratic presidential candidates forum at Faneuil Hall in Boston.[16]

Rock the Vote has expressed support for a public health insurance option.[17] It signed on to Health Care for America NOW!, a progressive political coalition that supported passage of the Affordable Care Act. In 2009, Rock the Vote ran a campaign encouraging people to refuse to have sex with those who opposed what they regarded as a reform of American health care.[18]

During the 2004 presidential election, Rock the Vote drew criticism from Republican Party officials such as Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie for sending a mock draft notice to over 600,000 e-mail addresses. The message included the words "Selective Service System" and read "You are hereby ordered for induction into the Armed Forces of the United States, and to report to a polling place near you" on November 2 (Election Day). The Rock the Vote logo and a facsimile of Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's signature appeared at the bottom of the message. In addition, Rock the Vote created public service announcements featuring the subject of the draft.[19][20] Besides making the PSAs available to large cable systems, they paid to run them on a random sample of small cable systems where they could measure the effects. Turnout was three percentage points higher among 18- to 19-year-olds in these sample areas than in the control group covered by other similar small cable systems; there was less effect above age 22.[21][22]

According to the Los Angeles Times, Rock the Vote experienced financial problems in the aftermath of the 2004 election. It emerged from the election $700,000 in debt, and its president resigned in summer 2005 "amid disagreements about the organization's direction".[1] In 2008, Rock the Vote's youth vote registration drive resulted in 2.6 million young voters registered.[23]

In November 2012 and 2013 Rock the Vote experimented with Facebook ads to encourage voter turnout by telling people the number of days remaining until the election and which of their friends "liked" the countdown. The ads were shown to over 400,000 adults, randomly selected from a base over 800,000. Rock the Vote had helped many of them register. The ads did not increase turnout in the experimental group, compared to the control group who did not get the ads.[22] In 2012 they also experimented with text message reminders to 180,000 people who had provided their mobile numbers. Texts the day before the election raised turnout six tenths of a percentage point, while texts on election day lowered turnout.[22]

In advance of the 2014 elections, Rock the Vote released a video titled "Turn Out For What". It was a parody of Lil Jon and DJ Snake's song "Turn Down for What".[24] The video sought to encourage youth voter turnout and featured reproductive rights, marijuana legalization, global warming, LGBT rights, student debt, gun control, and deforestation as reasons why young Americans might want to vote.[25] The video was criticized for having a disproportionate representation of left-wing political issues.[26] The video was also criticized because several of the celebrities who appeared in it, including Lena Dunham, Whoopi Goldberg, Natasha Lyonne, and Darren Criss, had not voted in the previous midterm election.[27]

The day after the 2016 US presidential election, Rock the Vote President and Executive Director Carolyn DeWitt issued a statement on behalf of the organization expressing disappointment with the election of Donald Trump and Republican Party congressional victories, writing "This is a jarring day for Millennial voters, who voted overwhelmingly for Secretary Clinton and for progressive candidates down the ticket...we woke up this morning with full hearts and piercing focus, not just on the next national election in two short years, but on putting the needs of young Americans, people of color and others feeling under siege, front and center for our new president and the 115th Congress".[28] In 2019, DeWitt spoke out in favor of abolishing the United States Electoral College.[29]

Democracy Class[edit]

Rock the Vote: Democracy Class is a program put on by Rock the Vote. It is designed to educate high school students about voting, elections, and governance. The lesson plan uses music, pop culture, video, classroom discussion, and a mock election to teach young Americans about elections.[30][31] On Democracy Day 2011, teachers in all 50 states committed to teaching Democracy Class in more than 1,100 classrooms.[30] High school students in Democracy Classes participate in mobile polls that assess their viewpoints on public policy issues.[32]

Brands for Democracy[edit]

Corporate contributors and partners provide financial support, employee volunteers, releasing limited edition voting merchandise, in-app registration, rideshares, space for in person voter registration or other in-kind contributions. This includes Chicago Sky (WNBA team),[33] Comedy Central,[34] Cox Enterprises (including subsidiaries Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book and Cox Homelife),[35] Cricket Wireless,[36] Doordash,[37] Foot Locker (includes Foot Locker, Champs Sports, Footaction, and Eastbay),[38] Fossil,[39] Gap Inc. (Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta, Intermix, Janie and Jack, and Hill City brands),[40] Hulu,[41] Kate Spade,[42] Lyft,[43] Macy's,[42] Snapchat,[43] Spencer's[44], The Los Angeles Lakers,[45] Tommy Hilfiger,[46] Uber,[43] VH1,[34] WarnerMedia (including HBO),[47] Yelp,[48] Yum! (operates the brands KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and The Habit),[49] and Zumiez.[50]

Athletes Rock the Vote[edit]

Athletes Rock the Vote is a program developed by Rock the Vote to partner with sports organizations and individual players to raise awareness and promote voter registration education. This has been accomplished through Public Service Announcements,[51][52] apparel with graphics messaging, and club and stadium messaging, as well as social media posting.[53][54]

Partners include the Golden State Warriors,[53] NFL,[55][56][57] WNBPA,[58][59][60] Pittsburgh Steelers,[61][62] Los Angeles Rams,[63] Atlanta Falcons,[64][65][66] Minnesota Vikings,[67] Baltimore Ravens,[68] New England Patriots,[69][70] San Francisco 49ers,[71][72] Chicago Sky,[73][60] Los Angeles Lakers,[74][75] WNBA,[59][76] and Pac-12 Conference.[77]

Hoopers Vote and Kickoff The Vote initiatives were designed to rally professional basketball and football communities to take action for the 2020 US elections.[54][78][79][80]

Celebrity spokespeople[edit]

This is a partial list of celebrities who have appeared in public service announcements for Rock the Vote.


  1. ^ a b Duhigg, Charles (February 7, 2006). "Rock the Vote Is Stuck in a Hard Place". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  2. ^ Serjeant, Jill (23 September 2020). "U.S. TV shows try a new election playbook: making voting part of the story". Reuters. Retrieved 23 August 2023.
  3. ^ Falconer, Rebecca (August 31, 2020). "Rock the Vote event highlights women's suffrage in push to register new voters". Axios. Retrieved 23 August 2023.
  4. ^ Contrera, Jessica (October 7, 2014). "Lil Jon and Lena Dunham team up to take on what Madonna and Chuck D pioneered". Washington Post. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  5. ^ Lurie, Stephen (October 31, 2014). "Millennial turnout is crucial. Too bad pols have no idea what young Americans care about". Washington Post. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  6. ^ Beaucar Vlahos, Kelley (December 11, 2003). "Youth Activist Groups Target Voter Turnout". Fox News. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  7. ^ Siegel, Benjamin (October 3, 2014). "Rock the Vote Gets Angry in New Ads". ABC News. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  8. ^ Browne, David. "The Gathering of the Tribes music festival". Retrieved 2023-05-15.
  9. ^ Goldberg, Michael (1992-04-30). "Lollapalooza Hits the Road Again with Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2023-05-15.
  10. ^ Madonna Rock the Vote PSA 1990, retrieved 2023-05-15
  11. ^ "Rock the Vote: How the Music Industry Built a Youth Voting Movement". Pitchfork. 2020-10-29. Retrieved 2023-05-15.
  12. ^ "Voter Registration Procedures |". Retrieved 2023-05-15.
  13. ^ Cloward, Richard; Pivin, Frances Scott (2000). Why Americans Still Don't Vote: And why Politicians Want it that Way. Beacon Press. p. 247. ISBN 9780807004494.
  14. ^ Flanagin, Jake (October 9, 2014). "Here's Why You Should Turn Out and Rock the Vote". New York Times. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  15. ^ Moran, Caitlin (July 1997). "Everything was just fear". Select. p. 86.
  16. ^ "CNN, Rock the Vote to co-sponsor Democratic candidate forum". CNN. October 1, 2003. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  17. ^ Mattera, Jason (2010). Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation. Simon and Schuster. p. 154. ISBN 9781439172094.
  18. ^ "Rock the Vote Asks Supporters to Withhold Sex to Pass Health Care Reform". Fox News. December 21, 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  19. ^ "Rock The Vote, MTV Irk GOP". Billboard Magazine. November 2, 2004. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  20. ^ Sisto, Christine (October 16, 2014). "Rock the Democratic Vote". National Review. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  21. ^ Green, Donald P.; Vavreck, Lynn (2008). "Analysis of Cluster-Randomized Experiments: A Comparison of Alternative Estimation Approaches". Political Analysis. 16 (2): 138–152. doi:10.1093/pan/mpm025. ISSN 1047-1987.
  22. ^ a b c Green, Donald P. (2015). Get out the vote : how to increase voter turnout (Third ed.). Washington, D.C. pp. 97–98, 101, 120–121. ISBN 978-0815725688. OCLC 922072845.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  23. ^ McGuirt, Mary (July 21, 2009). "Young Black Turnout a Record in 2008 Election". ABC News. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  24. ^ Kreps, Daniel (October 7, 2014). "Lena Dunham, Lil Jon Team for Rock the Vote's 'Turn Out for What' Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  25. ^ Peligri, Justin (October 7, 2014). "Lil Jon and Lena Dunham 'Turn Out' in new Rock The Vote video". CNN. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  26. ^ "'Rock the Vote' celebrities called out for not voting in last mid-term election". ABC News. November 4, 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  27. ^ Lombardi, Ken (November 3, 2014). "Some Rock The Vote midterm PSA stars didn't vote in last midterm". CBS News. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  28. ^ Vote, Rock the (9 November 2016). "Rock the Vote Responds to 2016 Presidential Election Results". Medium.
  29. ^ Bonn, Tess (March 21, 2019). "Rock the Vote President calls for dismantling of electoral college". The Hill. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  30. ^ a b Rothberg, Peter (March 22, 2012). "Democracy Class". The Nation. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  31. ^ Ramesh, Indu (August 26, 2010). "Rock the Vote campaigns to spark young voters". Duke Chronicle. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  32. ^ Johnson, Lauren (March 2, 2012). "Mobile is key to connecting with young voters: Rock the Vote". Mobile Marketer. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  33. ^ "Beyond Sport". Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  34. ^ a b "MTV, Comedy Central And VH1 Join Last Minute Push To Register Florida's Returning Citizens". WLRN. 2020-09-18. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  35. ^ "Rock the Vote, Cox Announce Partnership". Cox Enterprises.
  36. ^ "Your vote is your voice. Use it". Newsroom | Cricket Wireless. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  37. ^ "DoorDash delivers voter registration kits to your home". Engadget. 18 July 2019. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  38. ^ "Foot Locker, Inc.'s U.S. Family of Brands Encourage Gen Z Voters to 'Rock the Vote'".
  39. ^ Tarlton, Amanda. "40 brands that are encouraging people to vote in the 2020 election". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  40. ^ "Gap Launches Fall 'Stand United' Campaign – a Tribute to Individuals United by Humanity for Equality". Gap Inc. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  41. ^ Press, Hulu (2020-10-07). "Hulu Brings Election 2020 to Millions of Viewers, Expanding Live Election Coverage to On-Demand Hulu Subscribers". Hulu. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  42. ^ a b "Brands jump into voting conversation, but consumers say efforts don't affect buying decisions". Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  43. ^ a b c Lekach, Sasha (2020-09-15). "What apps like Snapchat, Uber, and Lyft are doing to get out the vote". Mashable. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  44. ^ Altomare, Flynn. "Vote Like Your Life Depends on It with Spencer's! - The Inspo Spot". Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  45. ^ "Lakers and Rock the Vote Announce Partnership". Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  46. ^ Garner, Stephen (2020-09-30). "TOMMY HILFIGER TEAMS UP WITH ROCK THE VOTE". MR Magazine. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  47. ^ "Voter Engagement". WarnerMedia. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  48. ^ "yelp-20201231". Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  50. ^ "Zumiez Standup and Rock the Vote | Zumiez". Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  51. ^ "Basketball Legends, Current NBA and WNBA Stars, Coaches, Media Personalities, and Super Fans Team Up with ROCK THE VOTE to Launch the HOOPERS VOTE Initiative and". Los Angeles Sparks. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  52. ^ "WNBPA's voting initiatives continue work of 19th Amendment a century later". 20 August 2020. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  53. ^ a b "'I am a voter': How NBA players from LeBron to KD are making an impact". 2018-11-05. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  54. ^ a b "Athletes Rock the Vote - Civic Education". Rock the Vote. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  55. ^ "Panthers, Falcons don 'Rock the Vote' shirts ahead of 'Thursday Night Football' game". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  56. ^ "NFL launches voting initiative 'NFL Votes'". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  57. ^ "NFL Votes Enters Its Third Season promoting League-Wide Voter Education, Registration and Activism | NFL Football Operations". 4 August 2022. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  58. ^ "PRESS RELEASE: WNBPA & Rock the Vote Announce New Partnership – WNBPA". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  59. ^ a b Spencer, Christian (2021-06-17). "Rock the Vote partners with the WNBA, others, to spread awareness of 'Freedom to Vote'". The Hill. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  60. ^ a b Parity. "Parity and HEARTLENT Group team up for NFT collection benefiting the WNBPA and Rock The Vote". (Press release). Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  61. ^ "Encouraging all to use their voice". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  62. ^ "NFL launches NFL Votes". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  63. ^ "Rams Partner With Rock the Vote to Empower LA Community". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  64. ^ atlutd. "On Anniversary of Voting Rights Act, Rock the Vote, AMB Sports and Entertainment, Atlanta Public Schools, and The New Georgia Project Team Up to Launch Democracy Class Atlanta | Atlanta United FC". atlutd. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  65. ^ "Official Website of the Atlanta Falcons Football Club". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  66. ^ "Rock The Vote APS Pep Rally". Mercedes Benz Stadium. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  67. ^ BARRY WILNER (2020-08-06). "NFL partners with three organizations to get out the vote". San Diego Union-Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  68. ^ "Rock the Vote with the Baltimore Ravens". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  69. ^, Elizabeth Román | (2020-10-21). "New England Patriots, DA team up to encourage voter turnout". masslive. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  70. ^ "Official New England Patriots News and Analysis". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  71. ^ Sanchez, Derrick (2020-09-29). "San Francisco 49ers Convene Multilateral Partnership to Drive Voter Awareness and Turnout in Upcoming Election". Levi's® Stadium. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  72. ^ "49ers Convene Multilateral Partnership to Drive Voter Awareness". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  73. ^ "Beyond Sport". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  74. ^ "Lakers and Rock the Vote Announce Partnership". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  75. ^ Burchardt, Damian (2022-09-20). "Lakers Partner With Rock The Vote To Help Young Fans Register & Cast Ballot On 2022 Election Day". Lakers Nation. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  76. ^ Galligan, Rachel (2020-09-24). "WNBA Players Team Up With Rock The Vote to Launch Hoopers Vote Initiative". HERO Sports. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  77. ^ "Pac the Polls: Voting Info Toolkit via Rock the Vote | Pac-12". Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  78. ^ "WNBA leads way for 'hoopers' voting campaign". 2020-09-24. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  79. ^ Aldridge, David. "'We are the future': Hoopers Vote uses NBA and WNBA players to push young voters". The Athletic. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  80. ^ Ayala, Erica L. "WNBPA Gets Into The NFT Game With Hoopers United Genesis Drop". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  81. ^ "Against Me! Rocks the Vote". Rock the Vote. April 14, 2008. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  82. ^ "Rhymefest at Wilberforce and University of Cincinnati". September 29, 2008. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  83. ^ "Glee's Darren Criss and KIIS FM join Rock the Vote in Launching National "Democracy Day"". Rock the Vote. March 23, 2011. Archived from the original on May 15, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
  84. ^ Exton, Emily (September 19, 2012). "Miley Cyrus and Her New Hair Encourage You to Vote in This Year's Election". Popdust. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  85. ^ a b Nichols, Kara (September 21, 2004). "Celebrities rally voters". Daily Trojan. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved July 18, 2008.
  86. ^ "Rock The Vote". Today In Madonna History. Archived from the original on May 15, 2023. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  87. ^ "1990 ROCK THE VOTE ANTHONY KIEDIS RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS PSA". YouTube. August 21, 2013. Archived from the original on March 12, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  88. ^ "Paul van Dyk's 'Politics of Dancing 2' : Live at Central Park August 20th". 18 August 2005. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
  89. ^ "Rock the Vote on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  90. ^ Fischer, Lauren Alexis (February 9, 2016). "Kendall Jenner Channels Rosie The Riveter In Rock The Vote Campaign". Harper's Bazaar. Archived from the original on February 10, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2016.

External links[edit]