This Group Is Deescalating Tensions At The Polls With Music

“We hope to bring joy to voters who are braving a global pandemic and epic long lines.”

joy to the polls

My friend Meredith Shepherd, organizer of a fantastic group called Joy to the Polls, explains what it hopes to accomplish this election season…

Wake-Up Call: What is Joy to the Polls?

Meredith Shepherd: Joy to the Polls is an initiative of the Frontline Election Defenders, and a non-partisan movement to make voting a celebration. With all of the reports of possible violence and voter suppression efforts at the polls this year, Joy to the Polls pushes back through music, offering it as a de-escalation tactic to ensure voters can vote safely and joyfully!

How was it started?

Joy to the Polls ​kicked off officially on Saturday, October 24th at multiple polling centers in Philadelphia, Pa. The event led to a viral joyful video​ inspiring voters across the country. 

What do you hope to achieve by doing your thing at polling places?

We hope to bring joy and some relief to voters who are braving a global pandemic and epic long lines to exercise their right to vote. Voter suppression is real, and we know that people shouldn’t have to wait 4 hours or more to exercise their right to vote. Election Defenders’ Joy to the Polls works to ensure that people are uplifted and that they use joy as a powerful tool to fight back. Bringing music to polling places lifts voters’ spirits and acts as a natural de-escalator. Between pop-up Joy to the Polls concerts, and Election Defender volunteers at the polls, we are trying to do our part to ensure that every polling location is safe, reliable, and accessible for us all.

Where have you all been going?

We kicked off Joy to the Polls in Philadelphia last Saturday, but Election Defenders have been training for months, learning de-escalation and mediation tactics

What kinds of things have you all been doing?

We have done a whole lot of planning and organizing to respond to the huge number of people who feel connected to our mission to make voting joyful. We released a toolkit to help organize community events, and tips for doing so safely. We are humbled and thrilled with the response.

What response have you been getting?

There has been a huge outpouring of support. Artists, neighbors, and people from across the country are reaching out to host their own Joy to the Polls events and create their own playlists for their friends and families to enjoy. We are organizing and hope to have organic events in every state across America.