In Shadow of new Tennessee Voter Registration Law, HeadCount sets Voter Registration Record at Bonnaroo

Article Contributed by HeadCount | Published on Sunday, June 16, 2019

HeadCount, the organization that partners with musicians to register voters, smashed it’s all-time record for the most voters registered at any festival in its 15 year history, passing the previous record (set at Bonnaroo in 2016) of 1,211. The record fell late Saturday evening, with another day left to register even more voters.

Since 2004, HeadCount has registered nearly 600,000 voters at over 5,000 concerts and music festivals.

“This is incredible. Essentially a year and a half away from the 2020 election, we are already seeing this level of excitement from young Americans about voting” says Andy Bernstein, HeadCount’s Executive Director. “2018 saw a more than 50% increase in youth voter turnout in Midterms, I can only imagine what this type of moment this will create for 2020.”

This all is in the shadow of a new law in Tennessee which would call for criminal penalties against voter registration groups for missteps in the voter registration process.

HeadCount is joining a lawsuit led by the ACLU against this law, which the to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law says "violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and have a chilling effect on the exercise of fundamental First Amendment rights.”

This law, which won’t go into effect until October, creates a criminal liability for any registration efforts that do not follow new legislative mandated procedures for voter registration drives. This could potentially harm organizations like HeadCount, which helped add voters to rolls across the country this weekend at Bonnaroo and dozens of other events, including Ariana Grande concerts, Pride marches and the Mountain Jam festival in Bethel, New York.

“It’s clear that Tennessee has a need for community voter registration drives like the one we hold every year at Bonnaroo,” said HeadCount’s Director of Engagement Tappan Vickery. “I just hope that we will continue to be able to provide these services in the future without risk of fines or prosecution.”

HeadCount has plans to register voters at thousands more concerts, festivals and cultural events before the 2020 election, with the goal of registering more than 200,000 voters by the next presidential election.