Last week’s AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam asked how a Taylor Swift Instagram post illustrated structural barriers to voting. It appeared on the May 3 version as a free response question.
The College Board explained to The Tennessee Star that Swift’s post was an example of a key concept for AP students: how knowledge of voter registration laws and procedures influence the nature and degree of voter turnout. Swift announced in a 2018 post that she would vote for both Democratic candidates in Tennessee’s midterm elections. Prior to that, Swift didn’t speak publicly about politics. The pop singer alluded to the Trump Administration as her main reason for deciding to share her political views.
I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.
I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempt to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100 [percent] on every issue, but we have to vote anyway.
So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting!
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AP for Students highlighted Swift’s inclusion within the test, posting a reference to one of Swift’s songs from a 2014 album and tagging the singer. The Twitter account represents the AP Program from College Board, the nonprofit that administers tests like the SAT for college admissions.
“In your Wildest Dreams, did you think you’d be in an #APGov question, @taylorswift13?” wrote AP for Students.
— AP for Students (@APforStudents) May 5, 2021
It doesn’t appear that Swift has responded to the tweet.
The College Board informed The Star that the National Constitution Center endorsed the AP U.S. Government and Politics course as a “model of political and ideological balance.”
The question is reproduced in full below:
In October of 2018, musician Taylor Swift used the social media site Instagram to endorse candidates for the United States Congress in the upcoming election. The post was a rare political statement from the pop star, who noted that ‘I’ve always been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but … I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. … So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do.”
Immediately following Swift’s Instagram post, thousands of 18-24 year olds signed up to vote. Swift added a link to the website vote.org in her bio, which lists voting procedures in various states.
After reading the scenario, respond to A, B, and C below.
A. Referencing the scenario, describe the structural barrier to voting that is discussed above.
B. Explain why the structural barrier described in part A may be more of an obstacle in some states than in others.
C. If youth voter turnout increases as a result of the actions in the scenario, explain how this could affect the way candidates run campaigns in the future.
The College Board clarified that the question won’t appear on the upcoming May 20 or June 3 versions of the AP exam.
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