Celebrities head to the polls in the US

US singer Pink told her 5.1 million followers on Instagram that she had voted. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Celebrities: Sometimes they are just like us. The latest example was on Tuesday (Nov 6), when athletes, actors, musicians and those famous for being famous joined ordinary Americans to vote on Election Day. They waited in long lines, filled out ballots and shared "I Voted" photos - just like the rest of us.

In past years, midterm elections have typically drawn far less interest among all voters, including celebrities, and turnout at the polls has dipped in off-years between presidential elections.

But this year is different. An energised and polarised electorate is fired up - and celebrities are playing a big part, both at campaign rallies and on social media, to get people engaged. More than 31.5 million people were estimated to have voted early across the United States, with 22 states and the District of Columbia surpassing total turnout in the last midterm four years ago.

"I voted because I honour those that have fought and died for these rights," singer Pink wrote on Instagram on Tuesday. "In order to have an opinion, you must participate. I voted. Go be loud. Go vote."

On Tuesday morning, a bunch of celebrities, including actresses Maggie Gyllenhaal and Zoe Kazan, encouraged their fans to go vote and offered them an incentive to do so: Share a photo of your "I Voted" sticker, they said, and they would share it with their followers.

Singer Melissa Etheridge shared a selfie with her "I Voted" sticker, as did actress Melissa McCarthy and Jimmy Fallon.

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Republican governor of California, encouraged people to bring friends out to vote, too.

"Get to the polls!" Schwarzenegger said in a video he shared on Twitter.

Mike Sorrentino, the reality TV star known as "The Situation" on Jersey Shore, advocated for voting. Actress and singer Zendaya, who is a former Disney star, voted on Tuesday and showed off her sticker.

A slew of celebrities voted early. Axl Rose, the lead singer of Guns N' Roses, tweeted a photo of his mail-in ballot and said "Vote Blue" - and then got an earful from fans who disagreed with his politics.

Another outspoken music star, Taylor Swift, voted early after spending the past few weeks urging her fans to register to vote. (The website Vote.org said her campaign led to an increase in registrations on its site.)

Swift, who had stayed silent for years about her political beliefs, said last month that she supported Democratic candidates in Tennessee, which she calls home. On Oct 30, she announced on Instagram that she and her mother, Andrea Swift, had voted early in Tennessee for Phil Bredesen, the state's former Democratic governor now running for Senate.

In an Instagram story on Tuesday, Swift, who had a concert in Australia on Election Day, told her fans that they would feel better about themselves if they voted.

"It's not enough to just want change," Swift said. "You have to go and make change by voting. Today is your opportunity to do that."

Other big names who voted early were actress Kerry Washington, who is currently in New York for her role in the new Broadway play American Son, and country music stars Faith Hill and her husband, Tim McGraw, who live in Nashville.

Leading up to Election Day, candidates across the country, from races for governor to those in the Senate, have attracted superstars to join them on the campaign trail.

For the most part, the big-name stars joined Democratic candidates. Case in point: Last week, Oprah Winfrey knocked on doors in Georgia with Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor. Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and now lawyer for President Donald Trump, stopped in Indiana to campaign for Mike Braun, a Republican.

Representative Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Texas, has campaigned with Willie Nelson and even jammed onstage with him.

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