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Ariana Grande's 29-state "Sweetener" tour will offer a voter registration initiative at every stop, making her the latest superstar to try and motivate concertgoers to the ballot box.
The pop singer debuted #thankunextgen, a play on her hit song "thank u, next," during her March 18 show in Albany, New York, in partnership with a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works with musicians to help register voters at concerts. She also promoted the campaign on Instagram, where she is the most followed woman with 148 million followers.
Sam Hardy, a HeadCount volunteer at Grande’s concert March 20 at TD Garden in Boston, said she signed up because she's passionate about music but even more passionate about civic engagement.
Hardy, who studies political science at Fordham University, approached fans waiting in line to buy merchandise to ask them if they were registered to vote.
In Massachusetts, citizens can register to vote at 16. Hardy said she spoke to fans as young as 12 and 13 who were excited to get involved in the political process — and in those cases, she asked them to make a voter registration pledge.
Fans who make a pledge are added to HeadCount’s system, which would — depending on their state’s law — send them an email on their 16th or 18th birthdays, instructing them on how to register to vote.
Aaron Ghitelman, director of communications at HeadCount, said Grande's campaign aims to get a younger generation actively involved in politics.
“You don’t have to be 18 to call your elected officials. Thirteen-year-olds can do that,” he said.
“Don’t just call your legislator. Be your legislator,” Ghitelman said, adding that the #thankunextgen campaign will also provide resource guides to empower more women and young people to run for office.
Grande is not the first musician to try and mobilize their massive following. In 2016, Grammy Award winner Chance the Rapper partnered with the NAACP to register voters at his U.S. concerts with a campaign named “Stay Woke And Vote.”
Last year, HeadCount volunteers were at every U.S. stop of Beyoncé And Jay-Z’s "On The Run II Tour," registering fans to vote in time for the 2018 midterm elections. Pop star Taylor Swift broke her silence on politics about a month before that election, as well, taking to Instagram to endorse two Democrats in Tennessee and encouraging her fans to register to vote. Vote.org reported a spike in registrations, especially among young people, within a few days of her post.
"Artists want to use the platform that they have to help their fans change the world," Ghitelman said.