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Billy Eichner took time out of presenting the American Music Award for favorite adult contemporary artist to Shawn Mendes to urge viewers of the ABC awards show to register to vote in the 2018 midterm elections.
Joined by fellow presenter Kathryn Hahn, the Billy on the Street star proclaimed, “Young people of America, the biggest election of our lifetime is happening on Nov. 6. Tonight is the final night to register in 20 states,” he said in part. “Tell your friends to vote. If you believe in equality for women, for people of color, the LGBTQ community; if you believe climate change is real and we need to do something about it. Don’t let people tell you your vote doesn’t count. It does. You can go to vote.gov like Taylor Swift told you to and go right now.” Swift actually told people to go to vote.org, but vote.gov, an official website of the U.S. government, also allows people to register to vote.
Eichner’s comments, which came 90 minutes into the three-hour show, were the most political remarks so far at the awards ceremony. Earlier, host Tracee Ellis Ross donned an “I am a voter” T-shirt and read its message before asking if audience members are voters too. She then told viewers, “Vote!” Khalid also seemed to shout out Democratic Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke when he won favorite male artist — soul/R&B.
Swift on Sunday broke her longtime apolitical stance to endorse two Democratic Tennessee Congressional candidates, adding that she couldn’t endorse Republican Marsha Blackburn in the race to replace outgoing Sen. Bob Corker.
“As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me,” Swift wrote in a post on Instagram. “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. These are not MY Tennessee values.”
The country singer turned pop superstar also explained why she was finally speaking out about her political views, something she had previously received intense pressure to do.
“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” she wrote. “I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.”
In the 24 hours following her post, vote.org saw 65,000 registrations, with the number growing to 240,000 in the 48 hours since Swift spoke out.
Swift embraced her new political persona when she became the most decorated female artist in AMAs history, winning her third award of the evening and 22nd overall, after opening the show with a dominant performance of “I Did Something Bad” and taking home the awards for tour of the year and favorite pop/rock album.
After pointing out that her artist of the year award, along with her other AMAs, were voted on “by the people,” she said, “You know what else is voted on by the people? The midterm elections on Nov. 6. Get out and vote.”
Off-camera Swift also won best pop/rock female artist.
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