Spotlight: Getting Out the Pop-Punk Vote With HeadCount's Katrina Vassallo


"I at all times say, I am by no means going to satisfy the president, you are by no means going to satisfy the president -- that is OK. But you'll be able to't overlook about these native votes."

As the nation tumbles in direction of Tuesday's midterm elections, political wonks are in excessive gear debating demographics in a rustic as divided as ever in current reminiscence. But one sect they're virtually sure to overlook of their conversations is the Warped Tour crowd.

In the Warped Tour's last 12 months -- which wrapped this summer time after 24 annual laps across the nation -- the nonpartisan nonprofit HeadCount raked in its most profitable outreach effort of the previous three years, with three,577 voters registered over 37 dates. Leading this marketing campaign was Katrina Vassallo, a 24-year-old tour supervisor with the 15-year-old group, who herself was registered to vote by HeadCount crew members as a highschool senior and commenced working with the group quickly after. She rose up the ranks from volunteer to intern and ultimately joined on as a crew chief for final 12 months's pageant season, touring from occasion to occasion, spending at most every week at residence between treks.

From June 21 to Aug. 5, Vassallo was welcomed into the Warped Tour "household," as she calls it, spanning sweltering parking tons throughout most the contiguous United States. The expertise supplied her distinctive perception into the sophisticated political points going through our nation, particularly by the lens of pop-punk and alt-rock followers who turned up for units by All Time Low, Simple Plan, 3OH!three and dozens extra.

"Of course it diverse by state and the place we labored ... however Warped Tour, as a complete, cared about human rights," says Vassallo. "These are individuals who care about psychological well being and who actually suppose that it must be a prime precedence, as a result of there are individuals on the market who're struggling and are feeling very down about themselves and really feel very alone. And that's one thing that Warped Tour does for them is convey them collectively and inform them that it's OK to not be OK, however we're all right here for you and also you don't have to decide on a drastic selection."

Using a megaphone to single out potential voters, Vassallo and her rotating crew of native crew members would sometimes strategy individuals one-on-one to ask in the event that they had been sufficiently old to vote and had registered but. If not, they'd attempt to signal them up -- a seemingly easy job that takes intricate information of every state's election legal guidelines, to not point out naturally disarming charisma.

In a superb day, for instance, in Minnesota, Vassallo and three volunteers registered 209 new voters. "There wasn't a second the place we weren't busy always," she says. More generally, although, Vassallo describes volunteers canvasing the pageant and returning to their sales space with 5 - 6 new registrations at a time, saying, "I obtained the noes, however I discovered the individuals within the shade they usually had been actually hyped to speak." Or individuals coming as much as the desk, saying, "Oh man, I completely have to do that. You're saving me a lot time. Thank you." Or help from people who find themselves already registered, telling her and her crew, "I like what you're doing. Thank you a lot. This is so necessary." Vassallo provides, "When you get a few these within the day, you are feeling like a superb day."

In the conversations that transpired, Vassallo says she personally met a divided and infrequently disillusioned voters. Many would complain that their votes didn't depend and politics are rigged, so why ought to they hassle collaborating?

"People are indignant at large elections," she says. "They're indignant that they really feel like presidents -- and simply not even this one, however on the whole with all presidents -- are simply pawns and that it's all paid out and stuff like that. And I've to remind them about native elections: Vote for the individuals that you would be able to meet, the individuals that you would be able to have a cellphone name with in case you strive, that you would write to. And go to these conferences, these Congress halls, your metropolis corridor, these locations the place you would go and meet these individuals, as a result of these are the individuals who're going to essentially combat for what you consider in, in case you vote them in."

She continues, "I at all times say, I'm by no means going to satisfy the president, you're by no means going to satisfy the president -- that's OK. But you'll be able to't overlook about these native votes."

In representing a nonpartisan group, Vassallo and her crew members must test their very own political opinions on the pageant gates, whereas nonetheless discovering inroads to debate politics and encourage others' participation. Some locations this was simpler than others.

In California, as an example, she says, "individuals actually cared about voting" and her job was simple. There was not such a lot of the everyday "My vote doesn't depend" response she encountered elsewhere, nor did she must resort to techniques like drawing pot leaves on indicators and writing, "Think elections don't matter?" (Recreational marijuana was legalized in California in 2016.) She says, "There are each proper and neglected in California, however we obtained lots of people who cared about ladies's rights, immigration rights, staff rights and issues like that."

Meanwhile, in Kansas, she recollects a unique sort of crowd: "This man had a shirt that stated LGBT and L was the Statue of Liberty, G was weapons, B was beer and T was Trump," she says. "And it was attention-grabbing as a result of we're at Warped Tour the place you need to use no matter pronoun you wish to and LGBT is so celebrated, however on the similar time there are individuals who nonetheless don't actually get down with it."

Despite her greatest efforts to remain neutral, Vassallo was usually pegged as a Democrat by conservative concertgoers. That would dissuading conservatives from even talking together with her till she defined the one factor she was advocating for was democracy and her goal was particularly to register voters, not choose sides. "Once individuals realized that I wasn't attempting to shove my views down their throat, they opened as much as me and felt higher about it," she says. "I used to be attempting to have the dialog that we don't have to be polarized, I simply need everybody to vote."

Even throughout such a contentious political period, after touring the nation Vassallo returned optimistic concerning the nation so usually mentioned as irredeemably break up. And she by no means overpassed the commonality that introduced everybody collectively to every of these tour stops within the first place.

One factor she discovered on the market? "Just how wonderful America is and the way cool the individuals are," she says. "And all of this music brings us collectively and it doesn't matter what makes us completely different -- , individuals carrying completely different shirts and garments and stuff like that -- the music brings us collectively. It at all times will."


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