How Hollywood Is Helping People Vote in the Midterm Elections

4:18 PM 10/22/2018

by Katherine Schaffstall

From Yara Shahidi to Billy Eichner to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, take a look at the stars that have used their platforms to try to increase turnout at the polls Nov. 6.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images; Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Vanity Fair; Amanda Edwards/WireImage

With the 2018 midterm elections just around the corner, a number of Hollywood stars are using their platforms to encourage people to vote.

Taylor Swift broke her long political silence in early October, endorsing two Democratic candidates in Tennessee in an Instagram post that encourages fans to register and vote, which subsequently was credited with sparking a surge in signups.

Beyond simply taking to social media, a number of politically engaged stars such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Billy Eichner, Yara Shahidi, Tom Hanks and Lin-Manuel Miranda are participating in various initiatives designed to increase turnout at the polls, sharing resources and information — and urging people to register and vote — so that people can make their voices heard Nov. 6.

Hanks and Miranda have even joined forces with former first lady Michelle Obama.

Marvel stars Chadwick Boseman, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson have teamed up with March for Our Lives to encourage first-time voters to hit the polls. And Full Frontal host Samantha Bee is seeking to educate voters through a mobile trivia app that also enables users to win money.

Read on for more about the ways in which Hollywood is trying tried to persuade people to get involved in the upcoming elections. 

  • Samantha Bee's Mobile Trivia App

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    Samantha Bee launched a mobile trivia app called This is Not a Game: The Game in September to encourage voting in the midterm elections.

    The daily trivia game guides users through 10 multiple-choice questions. Anyone who answers all of them correctly will split that day's jackpot, which ranges from $1,000 to $5,000. Users can earn extra lives by inviting friends, completing election-related "challenges" and checking their voter registration status. 

    While the Full Frontal host is never shy about sharing her liberal beliefs, she intended for the app to be relatively bipartisan. "I actually think that we endeavored to make something that would drive voter turnout in a bipartisan way. And I think that we have done that because somehow we have captured the voice of the show, but made it so that we're making fun of everyone — in an appropriate manner," Bee joked at a New York event in September.

    Bee developed the app alongside product manager Adam Werbach. The app was inspired by Full Frontal field producer Razan Ghalayini's segment about the decline of local newspapers, and how the promise of rewards can increase engagement and readership.

  • Multiply Your Vote Campaign with Julia Louis-Dreyfus

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus released a video in September that encouraged Democrats to vote as part of the Multiply Your Vote campaign. In addition to voting, the actress encouraged Democrats to volunteer, "because when you volunteer, you multiple your votes."

    The PSA followed Louis-Dreyfus and other volunteers as they explained why they chose to volunteer. Their answers ranged from environmental concerns to women's rights, immigration reform and protecting the free press.

    The actress added a personal touch to the video when she discussed her recent battle with breast cancer. "I'm a cancer survivor, too, and I'm really lucky because I had access to excellent health insurance even with a preexisting condition and that's the way it should be for absolutely everybody. It's not," she explained as one of her reasons for volunteering.

    The PSA concludes with Louis-Dreyfus encouraging viewers to visit to learn about volunteer opportunities.

  • Taylor Swift Endorses Democrat Candidates on Instagram

    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

    While a number of stars have taken to social media to share their political views and encourage their followers to vote, Taylor Swift's Instagram post marked the first time the singer has publicly shared a political stance.

    In the post, Swift wrote that she planned to vote for Democratic candidates Phil Bredensen and Jim Cooper in the upcoming elections in Tennessee. She also criticized Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn. "Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry," Swift wrote. "These are not MY Tennessee values."

    Just 24 hours after the post, it was reported that 65,000 people had registered to vote, while 240,000 new voters were registered within 48 hours.

  • Billy Eichner's "Glam Up the Midterms" Initiative

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    Billy Eichner launched the Funny or Die-backed "Glam Up the Midterms" initiative in February.

    James Corden, Sarah Silverman, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, Robin Thede, Andy Cohen and Chelsea Handler are also involved with the effort.

    “In all seriousness, I have certainly skipped more than a few midterm elections in my day — and now I deeply regret it,” said Eichner about his interest in the initiative. "After years of shouting at people on Billy on the Street, I've decided it's time to use my voice to do some good and to encourage young people all across the country not to make the same mistakes I did. Say what you will about me, I have a lot of energy and I can't wait to use it to help get out the vote and help ‘Glam Up The Midterms’ on November 6th!”

    The goal of the campaign is to encourage voters under 40 to fight for democracy and to vote in the upcoming elections.

  • Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks and Lin-Manuel Miranda's Voter Registration Initiative

    Michelle Obama celebrated the 53rd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act by traveling around the country to register voters as part of the When We All Vote Week of Action, which was held from Sept. 22-29.

    In addition to the former first lady, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Janelle Monae, basketball player Chris Paul and country singers Faith Hill and Tim McGraw serve as co-chairs of the organization.

    The organization released a PSA explaining the initiative in July. In the video, Obama called Miranda and asked if he is registered to vote, to which the Hamilton creator said, "Of course. I am not throwing away my opportunity to make my voice heard this November."

    After Obama explained the importance of voting in every election, Miranda set out on a mission to recruit more stars to spread the word. He called Paul to inform him about the initiative, to which the professional athlete responded, "There's no off-season for getting out the vote."

    Monae is later seen stating that the younger generation needs to vote because they "will change the world."

    "Our democracy, in the country we love, requires our attention, voice and participation," said Obama.

    Hanks added, "When we vote, we prove that we are a democracy, with a government of people and by the people."

    "So in every community we visit, it's important for them to know they can really make a difference if they go and vote in every election," continued Hill.

    The PSA asked viewers to encourage others to vote. "Tell them your hopes and dreams for your family, your community and our country. When we all vote, we determine our future," concluded Obama.

  • Yara Shahidi and Jimmy Fallon's 'Schoolhouse Rock'-Inspired PSA

    The actress and late-night talk show host teamed up to film a PSA that encourages young people to register and vote.

    In the Schoolhouse Rock-themed animated video, Shahidi declared, "I'm on my way to Voting Avenue. It's a place you get to go when you turn 18. It means you get to vote."

    A ballot joined her and Fallon and led them to Voting Avenue. Shahidi explained to viewers how to register, as well as informed Fallon about the importance of the elections.

    The video concludes with Fallon, Shahidi, the ballot and a group of judges, mayors and voters holding hands and swaying in unison. "So don't miss the possibility to take part in your democracy. Come join us here on Voting Avenue," they sang as the video zoomed out to show the people all over a map of the United States.

  • Yara Shahidi's "Eighteen x 18" Initiative

    Her PSA with Fallon isn't the only way Yara Shahidi is educating people about voting. She opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about her project "Eighteen x '18," which is an initiative that targets millennials to register and vote in the midterm elections.

    "My passion for voting really stemmed from having gone through the 2016 election and being really aware that many of my peers were unable to vote, including myself," she explained.

    "It is two-prong," she said of the initiative. "The first prong of it is voter education and really making sure that we're aware of how our government works and how this voting system works, what midterms are. All that basic information."

    "The second prong is voter registration and voter turnout because I think often times we get the information about gerrymandering," she said, pointing out that that can cause people to wonder if their vote counts or why it matters if they vote.

    The actress added that young voters should consider the country as a whole when voting. "We generally care about the world around us, and so we're voting for more than just our self interest and because of that, I think it's important that our opinions reflect at the polls," she said.

  • March For Our Lives and We Stand United PSA

    Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Kravitz, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle and Scarlett Johansson teamed up with March for Our Lives co-founders Emma Gonzalez, Delaney Tarr and David Hogg to film a comical PSA encouraging first-time voters to make their voices heard.

    The PSA opens with the stars reminiscing about their first-time voting, though the tone of the video makes it sounds like they are recounting their first sexual experiences.

    The video took a more serious turn when Cheadle explained that his parents weren’t able to vote until 1965, so he now votes in every election.

    "Let's rise up, register and let our voices be heard," encouraged Boseman.

  • HBO Stars Featured in "Rock the Vote" PSA

    A number of HBO stars participated in a silent PSA for Rock the Vote that encouraged people to sign up on National Voter Registration Day.

    Maggie Gyllenhaal, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kumail Nanjiani, Lena Dunham, Ed Harris, Tony Hale, Jeffrey Wright, Yvonne Orji, Jay Ellis, Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams are among the network's stars who participated in the video.

    The PSA featured the performers silently staring at the camera. The video concludes with the caption, "Right now, there's only one voice that needs to be heard. Yours."

  • Aja Naomi King Stars in Show Up 2018 PSA

    How to Get Away With Murder star Aja Naomi King joined forces with nonpartisan organization Show Up 2018 to explain why it's important for young people to register and vote in the midterm elections.

    After stating that the elections are coming up in the PSA, she said, '"But why should I care,' you ask. Aren't the midterm elections the ones where they choose jobs with names like 'insurance commissioner or 'county assessor?'"

    "Well, yes," she answered. "But it's also the election where we decide on all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, one-third of all U.S. Senators, 36 state governors and the attorney general in 30 states and D.C. This is a big deal."

    "These are the people who create the laws that affect all of us every day," she said. "So if you care about climate change, health care, a woman's right to choose; if you want to see more young people, women and people of color representing you in office; and if you want to see hateful policies against immigrants, black and brown people and the LGTBQIA community stopped in their tracks, you got to make sure you're registered, get to the polls and be a voter on Nov. 6."

  • Logan Browning's Initiative with Speak Left

    Logan Browning partnered with the progressive group Swing Left, which is working to flip the House of Representatives' majority from Republican to Democrat in November's midterm elections.

    The Dear White People star enlisted the help of Hillary Clinton, Kerry Washington, Mandy Patinkin, Tracee Ellis Ross, Anna Wintour, Lena Dunham, Kathryn Hahn, Uzo Aduba and more to film a video in which they explain why they are politically active and encourage viewers to volunteer.

    "Are you ready to do more this year than just vote?" asked Aduba in the video.

    The video also shows stars encouraging viewers to make calls and visit people's houses through volunteer work, calling on people to visit

    "There's so much at stake," said Washington.

  • Jodie Foster's "Because It Matters" Ad

    Jodie Foster directed the advertisement "Because It Matters" to encourage women to vote in the midterm elections. The ad, which supports Democrats for the House, was produced by Mike Bloomberg and RadicalMedia.

    Ser Anzoategui, Tichina Arnold, Hannah Bronfman, Logan Browning, Sophia Bush, Cher, Laverne Cox, Minnie Driver, Bethenny Frankel, Isabella Gomez, Marilu Henner, Felicity Huffman, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Gloria Calderon Kellett, Minka Kelly, Zosia Mamet, Christine Lahti, Téa Leoni, Marlee Matlin, Julianne Moore, Olivia Munn, Kathy Najimy, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Piper Perabo, Ellen Pompeo, Lele Pons, Lily Tomlin, Christy Turlington-Burns, Constance Wu and Foster are among the stars to appear in the ad.

    The women list many topics that are important to consider while voting, including healthcare, equal pay and equal rights.

    The ad concludes by encouraging viewers to text to word "Vote" to 433-67 to create a plan before voting on Nov. 6.

  • Freeform Stars Call on Young People to Vote Via Series of PSAs

    Freeform recruited stars Maia Mitchell, Cierra Ramirez, Deon Cole, Trevor Jackson, Chloe and Halle Bailey to film a number of PSAs to encourage viewers to vote in the midterm elections.

    In the first PSA, the stars explain that voting during the 2016 presidential elections took approximately 11 minutes. They then listed everything that you can do in 11 minutes, including eating a burrito and scrolling through Instagram.

    This could be the most important 11 minutes of your year," said Ramirez at the end of the video.

    In addition to the PSAs, Freeform will include on-air promotions on Election Day that inform viewers about polling locations and deadlines to vote. Reminders will also appear at the 11-minute mark of each program airing that day to tell viewers to vote.