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Twitter users are turning to clickbait to get out the vote

Meet vote-rolling — like Rickrolling for voter registration.

Fox/David Itzkoff
Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

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.

There’s just one catch: Clicking the link takes you not to a tell-all Kimye exposé, but to a 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.

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?

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.

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:

So keep it up, Twitterati — and if you haven’t yet, for the love of internet memes, register to vote.