Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Headcount sets up voter registration operation at ACL

Leila Saidane
First-time voter Abby Uribe completes voting registration at the Headcount booth at ACL Fest on Oct. 15, 2023.

Registering to vote might not be top of mind for the half million festival goers rocking out with their favorite artists at Austin City Limits. But beyond the electric stages and endless instagram-friendly flags, tents supporting this mission fill out Zilker Park. 

Headcount, a nonpartisan group, sets up shop at concerts like ACL and last year’s Harry Styles Austin mini-residency, registering young people to vote on the spot. 

“Younger people are becoming much more aware that they need to be engaged, but they have very hectic lives,” said Erwin Mazariegos, HeadCount’s ACL team leader. “Having access to younger people is great because they don’t know how to register, and we’re here to do it for them.” 

Since its inception in 2004, HeadCount provided more than 1.2 million concertgoers with the chance to register to vote, setting up booths at their favorite shows, such as Dead & Company and Ariana Grande. 

Mazariegos, a longtime ACL attendee, said he joined HeadCount around 2018 after realizing the ability to meet different demographics at major festivals and community events. 

“The country would be better off if everybody voted. I was thinking, what can I do about that? I’m just a regular guy,” Mazariegos said. “What I can do, I found out, is I can register people to vote.” 

While the deadline to vote in Texas for November’s election passed on Oct. 10, Headcount still registers voters for future elections. Mazariegos said most of the people who register at ACL reside in Travis County, but some do register for elsewhere in Texas and beyond. He said Headcount recorded 350 registrations throughout weekend one alone and signed up people for digital election alerts. 

“People are so busy nowadays,” said HeadCount volunteer Tahina Lavalliere. “There’s so many things that they preoccupy their time with but if you can go to a concert, and then you see a table available, here we are, ready to help. The convenience level is just up to par.”

Lavalliere joined HeadCount four years ago after seeing booths at several venues where she attended live shows. This year marks her second year volunteering with the organization at ACL, and her work doesn’t end with festival-goers, but extends to other volunteers and festival staffers as well.

“I met up with a couple of workers here and two of them happened to be ex-felons,” Lavalliere said. “They were no longer (felons) on paper and did not realize that because they’re no longer (felons) on paper, that they could vote again. It was the highlight of my day to be able to help them get their papers understood and mailed in to get situated with voting power.” 

Meeting new people and learning about their experiences makes the long festival days volunteering with HeadCount special, said volunteer Nina Eckhart, who became involved with the organization after seeing them at Harry Styles’ Moody Center residency last October. 

“ACL is so fun, with getting to meet so many different people and the different energies that everyone has,” Ekhart said. “It can be a little bit draining just because you’re meeting so many different people, but in the end the experience that you have from it is just so liberating and very breathtaking.” 

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About the Contributors
Logan Dubel, Senior Life & Arts Reporter
Logan is a journalism freshman serving as a senior life and arts reporter. He joined the Texan in Fall 2022 as a general life and arts reporter and comes to UT from Reisterstown, Maryland. While not writing his latest feature, he loves collecting vinyl, going to concerts and being Stevie Nicks' biggest fan.
Trisha Dasgupta, Senior Life & Arts Reporter
Dasgupta is a journalism freshman from Frisco, Texas. She currently works as a senior reporter for the Life and Arts department and has previously covered news for The Texan. When she's not writing articles you can find her listening to Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, or Billy Joel.
Leila Saidane, Photo Editor
Leila Saidane is a junior from Dallas, Texas, studying Radio-TV-Film and Journalism. Her words and photos have been published in The Texas Tribune, The Austin Chronicle, The Austin American-Statesman and The Dallas Morning News.