Here at the League of Women Voters of the United States office, we are lucky to work with dozens of inspiring partners to expand access to the vote each and every year. This election year is no different! As we speak, one of our most exciting partnerships in recent memory is in full swing in concert halls around the country.
Launched last month, the League is proud to be joining forces with celebrated recording artists Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins and Anais Mitchell on a 39-stop “Use Your Voice Tour.” At each show, the artists have invited local League volunteers to warm up the crowd by talking about the importance of their votes and the various elections occurring this and every year. They’ve also arranged space for the League to register voters and hand out educational materials at each show.
The idea for this partnership, generated by Griffin last year, aims to empower all fans of the artists’ music, especially women, to use their voices at the ballot box in order to weigh in on the issues they care about. In the words of Sara Watkins, “The League of Women Voters has been a common cause for the three of us [musicians]… We’re not preaching politics to people. We’re trying to bring awareness to the importance of being involved in your community.”
About a month into the tour, League volunteers, the artists and fans are reporting that the experience has been powerful and motivating. As one League leader in North Carolina remarked after her local show, “The opportunity to talk about the importance of the upcoming election – particularly in light of the recent and significant changes to our voting laws – was outstanding…”
Having had the opportunity to attend a recent show with other LWVUS staff working hard to support the tour, I couldn’t agree more. Not only was the evening a unique opportunity to celebrate beautiful music; I was more proud than ever to be part of an organization that works to engage voters of all backgrounds. While the issues that motivate each of us vary, our votes are the primary way we come together to make our voices heard. I especially hope this tour will help empower people who have never voted, or people who have moved and need to update their voter registration, to get the basic information they need.
The partnership is not just reaching concertgoers; the artists and participating Leagues are working hard to get the pro-voting message out to other fans and local communities. Support from the artists will sponsor a variety of League-led voter education activities in every community on the tour, ensuring the impact continues to be felt throughout the year. Additionally, the partnership has earned coverage in at least twenty regional media outlets so far, and each of the artists have used their large social media platforms to spread the message. Follow along on Twitter and Instagram using #UseYourVoiceTour.
As artist Anais Mitchell recently said, “Generations of women struggled so hard to ensure that our voices would be heard. The least we can do is honor their struggle by participating in these local and national decisions that affect all our lives!”