Today, HeadCount and Up to Us have announced a strategic partnership to educate, register and turn out young voters in 2022. The organizations are collaborating through a shared belief that democracy should represent all Americans. Young voters’ diverse and passionate voices make us a better union and must be heard on Election Day.
Since 2004, HeadCount has registered over one million voters working with musicians and partners including Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello, RuPaul’s DragCon, and MTV. Up to Us, founded in 2020 by Gen Z innovator Conor Sanchez-O’Shea, successfully partnered with social media creators across TikTok and Instagram such as The Cheeky Boyos, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ashton Kutcher, Dillon Francis, Grimes, Madelaine Petsch, and Gigi Hadid, to urge and incentivize their audiences to check their voter registration status and request mail-in ballot applications. Their 2020 voter engagement initiatives mobilized over 40,000 young people to get ready to vote in the last election cycle.
“HeadCount is thrilled to work with Up to Us, a truly Gen–Z–led social impact non-profit, to grow our combined digital programs and provide innovative and dynamic voter engagement strategies to reach America’s young voters,” said Andy Berstein, Executive Director of HeadCount. “Together, we are poised to make a cultural movement out of turning out to vote in the midterm cycle.”
The midterm election will not only determine control of the U.S. Congress but also demonstrate the power of young voters in elections. In 2018 and 2020, young voters broke records for electoral participation - with a 79% increase between 2014 and 2018, and a 39% increase between 2016 and 2020. Young voters have been credited with being the deciding factor in both elections. If this trend continues in 2022, we will have achieved a paradigm shift, where high youth voter turnout forces elected officials to prioritize and engage with the unique generational challenges young people face.
“HeadCount was one of the first organizations to successfully channel the frustration young people across this country have into voting and civic engagement. With their scale, experience, and support, we’re going to make sure the next generation of voters' voices are heard,” said Conor Sanchez-O’Shea, the 25-year old founder and CEO of Up to Us.
Before 2018, less than a quarter of young eligible voters participated in the midterm elections. If participation rates drop back down, only about half of the 25 million voters under age 30 who voted in the 2020 election will return to the polls this November. This dropoff is tied to a lack of education and understanding about the U.S. Congress and the role of representatives. Barriers to voting are also a reason for low youth voter turnout – and voters face even more barriers this year in light of restrictive voting laws passed in 2021. Most of all, today’s young voters are overwhelmingly unaffiliated with a political party and turned off by the polarized messaging that comes from legislative candidates and campaigns.
The partnership between HeadCount and Up to Us is designed to leverage the organizations’ shared knowledge and track record of success to engage and mobilize young voters to turn out in 2022. By integrating culture, technology, gamification, non-partisan voter education and responsive Get Out the Vote tactics, HeadCount and Up to Us will register and turn out a record number of young voters. The collaboration will be evident in the forthcoming continuation of HeadCount’s “Good to Vote” campaign, employing proprietary technology designed by Up to Us in the previous election cycle. This technology will also support HeadCount’s ongoing partnership with Global Citizen.