Artists, entertainers, community leaders, and everyday citizens all joined together to celebrate the right to vote in the US Thursday night.
Alicia Keys, America Ferrera, and Kerry Washington hosted the Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy broadcast special on CBS to focus on the impact, importance, and joy of voting — and provide crucial information in the last few days leading up to the 2020 US presidential election.
Since August, as part of the Just Vote campaign in partnership with the organization HeadCount, Global Citizen has encouraged citizens to check their registration status, worked with companies and nonprofits to give their employees time off to vote, urged media outlets not to announce the winner of the election prematurely with Count Every Vote's National Council on Election Integrity, and more.
Every Vote Counts continued that momentum of engaging voters by encouraging civic action.
Keys, Ferrera, and Washington kicked off the event on a socially distanced stage.
“At our core, we are a government by the people, for the people,” Ferrera said. “And right now, it is important for all of us — regardless of party — to live that truth.”
Washington then emphasized the importance of voting.
“When we vote, our voices shape our democracy,” she said. “Patriotism isn’t political, and tonight, we stand together as mothers and daughters, as fathers and sons, as people showing up for each other.
“Whatever your political beliefs, when we show up and express those beliefs through our vote that is what love for our country looks like. And when we all vote, we move toward the equality, justice, and truth that we as Americans so urgently need,” she said.
Later in the night, Ferrera and Washington held virtual roundtables to address Americans’ concerns and excitement around the election.
Washington spoke with Beatrice Lumpkin, who has voted in 21 presidential elections, and Carolina Hidalgo-McCabe and Michael Franklin, two first-time voters.
Lumpkin, 102, made headlines earlier this month when she wore a homemade hazmat suit to mail in her ballot. She said the fight for gender equality motivated her to vote this election.
“It’s 100 years since women won the legal right to vote and we’re still not equal,” the former teacher from Chicago told Washington. “Women’s rights are an issue in this election and voting gives us power.”
Hidalgo-McCabe, 24, lives in Miami and shared that her father fled Cuba’s dictatorship to come to the US. She said she made a pact with her dad that they would both vote in each other’s honor. Hidalgo-McCabe’s dad cares deeply about climate change, while she is concerned about his social security benefits.
“It’s been this beautiful connection between generations that gives me hope,” Hidalgo-McCabe said. “For me, voting comes down to respect for everyone around me.”
Lumpkin jumped back in to remind viewers that their civic duty doesn’t end on Election Day.
“We can change things that are wrong if we stay involved, stay in the process after the vote,” she said.
Franklin, 21, is from Washington, DC, and said he identifies as Black and queer and pays tribute to his ancestors with his vote.
“I’m also part of the folks that built this country for what it is today,” he said. “I think of the folks that don’t get the acknowledgment that I’m living out their wildest dreams.”
To close the roundtable, Washington shared why she’s voting.
“I am voting for me and I’m voting for my children,” she said. “But I’m also voting for each of you.”
For Ferrera’s roundtable, she joined members of Count Every Vote’s National Council on Election Integrity — former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) and former Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN). The two worked across the aisle to pen an op-ed together in September about the Count Every Vote campaign and answered Ferrera’s questions to help Americans understand why the election results might take longer than in previous years.
It is expected that 70 to 75 million Americans will be voting by mail or with absentee ballots this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Daschle explained.
“We need to adjust our expectations for when we get results and then give election officials the time they need to do their jobs,” Frist added.
Ferrera asked what responsibility the media has this election to ensure that Americans trust democracy is working.
Daschle stressed that media outlets should not be as competitive about announcing a winner as they have been in previous years.
“It’s really imperative for the media to resist the temptation to declare winners, especially if the votes haven’t all been counted,” he said.
Frist went on to voice concern for how this year’s election is being portrayed.
“The misperception that is being projected by some that our election process is flawed, that it’s full of mistakes to be made, that it has no integrity, is just absolutely wrong,” he said.
Ferrera wrapped up the informative conversation by advising Americans to join Global Citizen to make sure Every Vote Counts by texting PLEDGE to 31318.