Many young people would relish an opportunity to go out on the road with a rock group, but only a select few get the chance. Fewer still get such a gig that includes the task of encouraging young people to vote instead of say, lugging around the band’s equipment.
Adam Troisi, a 20-year old Plainview native and Tulane University student, will join nonprofit HeadCount this summer in their mission to register young voters at concerts and musical festivals across the nation. Volunteers such as Adam will participate in “The Great American Road Trip,” joining the concert tours of Dave Matthews Band, Wilco and Further—including Phish at Jones Beach theater July 4.
“Musical artists—for whatever reason—tend to be politically active, and where else can you find so many people of all ages come together? Only a music festival,” said Troisi.
Since 2004, HeadCount has registered about 200,000 voters at concerts across the country. That year, the organization set an all-time record of registering 12,161 voters during the Dave Matthews Band tour.
By providing incentives to get young adults to visit the tent and register—like raffling off tickets to more concerts when you pledge to vote— they hope to mobilize more voters than ever before the November elections. So, why the major concentration on jam bands like Phish?
“Fans of Phish and Dave Matthews Band already have a community vibe, and that lends itself to the work we do,” said Andy Bernstein, executive director of HeadCount. “We’re really focused on face-to-face registration, where as other organizations register through websites only.”
“We get about 10 local volunteers at each show to help out under the direction of a trained leader, which sets us apart from any other organization,” he said. By mobilizing members of each community that they pass through, HeadCount’s team reaches large groups of people in a personal way.
HeadCount is nonpartisan and does not aim to sway voters’ opinions. They provide a nonpartisan education to young Americans in order to allow them to form their own opinions.
“On HeadCount’s website, you can create a personalized account and choose particular issues that you’re interested in learning more about,” said Troisi. “HeadCount will then send you newsletters pertaining to those issues so you know what you’re voting on come November.”
Bernstein notes the organization serves the public as well as the volunteers by giving them a valuable experience.
“As a volunteer you’re not required to be knowledgeable about politics, but I do find myself reading up on the issues because people come over to the booth and are really passionate about certain topics,” said Troisi.
The best part is all in a days work. “I get to have conversations with arguably the most important demographic of all—the youth,” he said.