What’s the electoral equivalent of a Rickroll? Vote-rolling? We don’t know what you call it, but we’re seeing it right and left on Twitter in recent days, as the countdown to the voter registration deadline draws near for states around the country and the pivotal midterm elections loom large.
As far as we can tell, the trend kicked off with this viral tweet from last week that worked killer clickbait magic.
Welp...it’s official...Kim Kardashian finally decided to divorce Kanye West... https://t.co/C2p25mxWJO— Ashlee Marie Preston (@AshleeMPreston) October 12, 2018
There’s just one catch: Clicking the link takes you not to a tell-all Kimye exposé, but to a Vote.gov link encouraging you to register to vote.
From there, more Twitter users signed up to play along — like Kathy Griffin, who capitalized on her most recent moment of political notoriety.
I've decided to release the voicemail Trump left for me the day the infamous photo was released. It took me some time to decide to do this, but I feel its important to share it with the world.— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) October 13, 2018
Click Here To Listen: https://t.co/V4q6UI24nn
The recent breakup of Ariana Grande and SNL’s Pete Davidson was also prime viral vote-roll material.
We’re especially fond of the old “buy $10 in quarters” gag, because who says a classic internet prank can’t be turned to good?
GUYS!!!!!!! DISNEYLAND // PARKS BLOG JUST DROPPED A LINK FOR AN AFTER HOURS EVENT NEXT MONTH!!!!!!!!! GET YOUR ANNUAL PASSHOLDER FRIENDS TO SIGN UP!!! SEE YOU THERE!!! ✨❄️ https://t.co/NMp8BYXNV8— FRANNY The Gay Witch (@frncissdominc) October 16, 2018
holy shit— Seinfeld Current Day (@Seinfeld2000) October 17, 2018
NBC is actualy bringing seinfeld backhttps://t.co/1afm0s6UpU
And of course the Kimye gimmick kept on giving — even Elle magazine got in on it:
Okay, admittedly, some of these are breaking our hearts a little.
But mostly these are just lots of fun — even when there isn’t actually a link involved.
Of course, as always, not everyone is laughing. As the vote-rolling has picked up steam in recent days, it’s invited criticism of the implication that people care more about celebrity gossip than participating in democracy, or that they need to be tricked into voting.
this is a link to a voter registration page, which implies that elle readers aren't interested in voting unless they're being tricked into it with fake celeb breakup news, which seems...super insulting to elle readers, actually?— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) October 18, 2018
THIS IS SO ANOYING. Stop shaming people for enjoying celebrity gossip as a way to get them to vote. PEOPLE CAN DO BOTH https://t.co/NVMo6MGpq5— Sam Sanders (@samsanders) October 18, 2018
But in this day and age, using celebrity gossip or fun internet gags to remind people to vote is far from the worst iteration of internet slacktivism — especially given the kind of waves Taylor Swift’s Instagram political endorsement made among young voters.
Besides, anecdotal evidence suggests this corny campaign might actually be working:
Damn... this is the one that got me to stop procrastinating & actually register.— Caleb Moktan (@therealcrayleb) October 16, 2018
So keep it up, Twitterati — and if you haven’t yet, for the love of internet memes, register to vote.