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Headcount is motivating young people to get out and vote through music

“Not everyone is into politics but everybody likes music…”

Headcount is bringing millennial voters to the polls using music as its driver. For sure, the nonpartisan organization is with the times having registered close to half a million new voters since its start in 2004.

The vision for the NPO came from the mind of Andy Bernstein who was fed up with how “messed up the word is.” While working as a young reporter, at a concert, he connected the dots after having a conversation about Guantanamo Bay.

From there, he figured, the best way to combat the disconnection between people and politics was to unify them through the universal language of music.

Bernstein would pitch the idea of Headcount to Disco Biscuits’ bass player, Marc Brownstein. The two hit the ground running in 2004 with the idea to pull up to concerts and register voters. To their surprise, the very first year, the two were able to finesse 50,000 voters.

Headcount grew faster than Bernstein had expected and soon enough his vision went on tour with some of the world’s biggest American bands. Now, in 2018, their massive and are affiliated with over 100 touring musicians, including artists like Jay-Z, J. Cole, YG, and Chance the Rapper.

Over 20,000 volunteers, nationwide, help ensure that Headcount’s mission is heard. The NPO also works with numerous concert venues, festivals, and partners in order to rally music fans to take control of democracy.

The goal is simple – get young people to vote. Still, the task proves itself difficult as only 28 percent of young adults ages 18 to 29 say they are “absolutely certain” they’ll vote in the midterm elections, compared to 74 percent of seniors, according to a recently released poll from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Atlantic.

Over the phone, Bernstein told us the powerful effect youngins can have on the political system. He said,

“The world is an ongoing work in progress. Our job is to move that progress forward by getting young people informed and engaged because that always makes the world better. I don’t care who people are voting for. I’ll tell you that I believe when young people get involved the world gets better. We don’t fuck the world up we actually move it in the right direction…”

The work that Headcount does is truly important as they look to inform those who feel disconnected from politics. Besides music, the nonpartisan organization has several initiatives that focus on reeling in people to take charge at the polls.

One that’s gaining mad clout — The Cannabis Voter Project. Through the project, Headcount hopes to “drive voter turnout in a big way.” The initiative focuses on educating Americans about how voting can impact cannabis legalization and policy.

The inspiration spawned out of curiosity. Bernstein felt it was important to know where congressional leaders stood on marijuana policy. Plus, what’s better than informing the public about trees?  Fifty-two percent of Americans, 18 years of age or older, have tried the dank.

Bernstein is definitely about pushing the Kulture forward. Over the phone, we touched on getting POC more involved in politics and how Headcount throws the assist. He said,

“All too often its bad choice A versus bad choice B and people are going to stay home in that situation. It’s really incumbent on the political parties to develop young candidates who will be voices of both progress and voices of inspiration. There’s only so much that a group like us can do if a candidate is not inspiring. When a candidate is inspiring it’s only going to lift the work that we do.”

Still, to get in touch with our democratic powers it’s important that we as young people stay connected. Remember that it starts at the local level. This is the level that effects us the most. Know that if you get out there your vote means a lot more than you think.  Bernstein touched on how major voting at the local level really is. He said,

“Local is where it all starts. It all kind works it way up from there and local is actually what impacts your life more than anything. Turn out for local elections are really low, but when fewer people come out your vote means twenty times more. So, there’s the real power to change. It starts with your city council. It starts with judges. It starts with sheriffs… It starts with electing the people who are going to decide whether you go to jail or not. That’s what we are trying to do, create a world where young people feel more empowered and make it easy to get in touch with that power. “

The youth are the future. Facts or nah? Straight facts! So, get out there and register to vote today. Who knows? If you don’t, the results of your actions might be dire. Just in case, Bernstein made sure to bless those who have a dream to change the world with advice about starting your own NPO. He said,

“One thing I would say is that it’s not as hard as it seems. You know it’s a very doable thing. I didn’t know anything… I did not know a damn thing, but you figure it out. Just like anything you figure it out!”