When it came to encouraging people to vote in the midterm elections, several celebrities let their voices be heard far and wide. But when the time to vote came around this year, many celebrities were conspicuously absent.
Rose McGowan and Alyssa Milano starred in a “Funny or Die” video highlighting the ease of voting while mocking Charlie Sheen’s latest antics. Ben Harper and Gabrielle Union recently appeared on the "Raise Your Vote" videos on President Obama’s Facebook page, and stars like Joaquin Phoenix, Olivia Wilde, Jessica Alba and Jay-Z have been featured in election-related public service announcements.
On Tuesday, dozens of celebrities including LeBron James, Pamela Anderson, Denise Richards, Kim Kardashian, Joan Rivers and Jewel took to their Twitter accounts to remind their followers of the importance of “getting out and voting.” Bill Cosby even announced that anyone who didn’t vote was “a pathetic person.”
So given the fact that paparazzi were stationed at prominent polling booths in the neighborhoods where most celebrities live, one would think we would be seeing and hearing about all the stars going off to vote.
But, alas, like so many other Hollywood stories, things weren’t as they seemed.
“The paparazzi presence at polling points resembled that of an A-list party or Hollywood premiere,” said Jeffrey Lavalette of GossipCenter.com, a website that closely monitors all star-studded sightings and paparazzi pictures. “Unfortunately for the shutter bugs, the celebrities haven’t followed suit.”
So, is it possible that several Hollywood stars don’t actually practice what they preach and head to the polls?
“Almost two years ago to the day, celebrities were chiming in unison the praises of Obama – but it seems now that voting isn’t the cool thing to do,” said Angie Meyer, communications director of the Young Republicans.
Meyer also said that while the number of celebrities who don’t vote is surprising, a number aren’t even registered, according to the voter files provided by the Office of the California Secretary of State.
“If you looked up the voter registration of many of our favorite celebrity political advocates, you’d be surprised to learn that many of them haven’t voted in years, and even more disturbing – very few are even registered,” she added.
Yet, according to Ange-Marie Hancock, a professor of political science at the University of Southern California, many stars opt for an absentee ballot to avoid causing havoc at polling stations.
In addition, Robin Bronk, CEO of The Creative Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group for the arts and entertainment industry, argued that privacy laws prevent the stars’ presence from being revealed.
“In California, where most celebrities cast their votes come election time, there is a clear ban on taking photos and videos, thus virtually prohibiting or severely limiting media access,” Bronk told us. “These laws are set in place to eliminate voter distraction and intimidation.
“Although it would be powerful to see celebrities exercising democracy in action, it may also cause a huge raucous which might deter other voters from visiting voting stations.”
But for others even in the entertainment industry, it’s a blessing that stars rarely show their face on Election Day.
“I'm fine with these types not being visible on Election Day,” Los Angeles-based writer/radio host Moxie Cathedra said. “Most of them do enough damage by supporting poorly thought-out causes, the implications of which neither they nor their fans truly understand.”
Deidre Behar contributed to this report.