YouTube’s #VoteIRL Campaign Wants To Get The Youth Vote Rocking

This year’s entry in the perennial “let’s talk to young voters in their own terms” campaign.

WHAT: #VoteIRL, a campaign launched by YouTube today to urge young voters to register and cast their ballots for the candidate of their choice in November.


WHO: A veritable who’s-who of YouTube stars, ranging from Bethany Mota to Dulce Candy to Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks to Blimey Cow, and a whole lot more.

WHY WE CARE: Every election season for decades, there’s been a push to engage young voters by reaching out to them in hip, with-it terms that they themselves use. On the one hand, the repetitiveness of these campaigns doesn’t register among their target audience: If you’re a 19-year-old potential voter right now, the fact that Puff Daddy pushed “Vote or Die” as his slogan in 2004, when you were 7 years old, probably doesn’t register. (The existence of “Rock the Vote” back in the ’90s, when young people identified with rock music, sounds downright anachronistic at this point.) On the other hand, getting a bunch of YouTube stars to urge their fans to “#VoteIRL” in a video feels very familiar, and pretty corny, if you’ve seen these campaigns before. Either way, though, these campaigns tend to be more effective at engaging young voters than one might expect. #VoteIRL may lack some of the urgency of Vote or Die, but it does further the notion that, for people in the first-time-voter demographic, YouTube stars are the celebrities to watch. How all of that shapes up at the polls remains to be seen, but no matter what, we’re certainly going to see the hottest stars of [insert future entertainment trend here] urge people to participate in democracy in a nonpartisan manner in 2020 and beyond.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.