HeadCount gets out the vote at Firefly

Corinne Freeth, left, of Wilmington, registers to vote as volunteers, Cody Locklear, Charlotte Chauvin and Renita Wade wait to give assistance at Firefly on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Corinne Freeth, left, of Wilmington, registers to vote as volunteers, Cody Locklear, Charlotte Chauvin and Renita Wade wait to give assistance at Firefly on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Most people attend the Firefly Music Festival to enjoy the music, but the people of HeadCount have come to convert concertgoers into registered voters.

HeadCount, a nonprofit, nonpartisan voter registration group, advocates democracy through music. They are located all throughout the country with a mission to give young adults a voice.

The HeadCount team of 10 hasn’t hesitated this weekend to ask those who walk past their tent in The Market area if they are registered to vote.

“We go to shows and festivals around the country and we register voters,” said Margery Ellis, a volunteer from Wilmington, North Carolina. “We’re not pushing any particular party or cause. We just really want to make sure everyone has access being registered to vote.”

Isabel Hill from Fredrick, Maryland said she liked the fact that HeadCount wasn’t forcing a specific party or candidate.

“They just get people involved instead of pushing their own agenda,” she said.

Ms. Hill approached the HeadCount table to switch her party.

“I wanted to vote in the primary this year, but I had registered as an Independent and didn’t change it in time,” she said.

Ms. Ellis said Firefly is filled with the demographic they are trying to target.

“There are so many young people here that may or may not had exposure to get registered,” she said.

Ms. Ellis said it’s especially important for people to register this year since the presidential election is so controversial.

“So many people have opinions,” she said. “The best way to express your opinion is to vote, and if you’re not registered, you can’t vote.”

Volunteer Team Leader, Margery Ellis explains how to fill out voter registration forms at Firefly on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Volunteer Team Leader, Margery Ellis explains how to fill out voter registration forms at Firefly on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Fellow HeadCount volunteer and Wilmington, North Carolina resident Cody Locklear said the intensity of the presidential election should motivate people to register.

“People say, ‘What is one vote going to do?’” he said. “It could do a lot. One voice can change everything.”

Ms. Ellis said she enjoys attending music festivals around the country, but she enjoys registering people who didn’t realize they were eligible to vote even more. For example, some states recently allowed former felons to register.

“Sometimes there are people who didn’t realize that that was an option for them,” she said. “So getting to register that person who didn’t think they’d get to vote again is a really cool thing.”

Mr. Locklear said he alone has persuaded about 50 people to register this weekend.

“I stress the importance of their opinion and their vote will matter, and it could make a difference,” he said.

Ms. Hill agrees.

“A lot of people have opinions about what should and shouldn’t happen in the government,” she said. “People should have the ability to vote when they want to.”

Firefly fan Taylor Hartsock from Richmond, Virginia has been registered to vote for six years.

“I’ve voted in every election,” she said. “I’ve voted in the primaries and even in the elections that people don’t think matter, like Congress.”

She said she met someone at Firefly who’s in HeadCount’s Richmond, Virginia chapter.

“I think what they’re doing is a great thing because a lot of young people don’t vote,” she said.

She said she was talking to her 15-year-old brother about voting when he’s old enough.

“This recent election is kind of enforcing his belief that his vote doesn’t matter, so that’s unfortunate,” she said.

Nationally HeadCount has registered almost 350,000 people nationwide for the upcoming election.

By Saturday afternoon, HeadCount had registered 396 Firefly fans to vote. Their mission is to register 500 people by the end of today.

“I think we’re going to smash our goal,” Ms. Ellis said.

Kristen Griffith is a freelance writer living in the Dover area.

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