Forty-two percent — that's how many eligible voters in the United States usually don't cast ballots.
It's a figure Frank Ocean wants to change. Tuesday, the notoriously reclusive singer made a surprise announcement that he was offering free merchandize in four major U.S. cities — including Miami — to anyone who could prove they had voted.
In Miami, Ocean's pop-up is located at 84 NE 39th St. in the Design District. His shirts and stickers carry the figure "42%," calling it "the largest political group in America." Volunteers at the site began with 1,000 shirts, most of which had been snapped up by Tuesday afternoon.
"We really want to encourage civic engagement in this time," said 23-year-old James Andrews, the lead organizer in Miami. "It’s important, especially for 18- to 24-year-olds, to get out and vote."
Andrews said the organizers are not officially affiliated with any political group, but the promotional material from Ocean says he chose Miami to support Andrew Gillum, who would be Florida's first black governor if elected.
Frank Ocean, whose song “Moon River” Joaquin Oliver loved, has sent these get out the vote T-shirts to Joaquin’s parents and @AMarch4OurLives. Focused on the 42% of Americans who don’t vote. pic.twitter.com/8PimShBtNH— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) November 6, 2018
Ocean also sent three boxes of shirts to the organizers of March for Our Lives and the family of Joaquin Oliver, an 18-year-old Ocean fan who was shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland this past February.
Eighteen-year-old Jeffrey Caceres said he found out about the giveaway via Joel Franco, a young Miamian with a huge Twitter following. Although he planned to vote anyway, Caceres said the tweet pushed him to get to the polls a few hours earlier.
“This caught my attention. I was gonna [vote] last second, but then he told me about this, so shout out to Joel,” he said.
Mariann Miguel, 20, also learned of the pop-up from Franco. “I like his approach," she said. "He just informs the youth and he stays pretty neutral, which is pretty important in these times.”
Miguel, an Ocean fan who has been politically engaged for years, said she was excited to grab one of the T-shirts not only because of Ocean but also because of what his giveaway stands for. “It’s a good cause," she said, "because in the future someone will ask, ‘Hey, where’d you get that shirt?’ and I’ll say, 'I voted.'”
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.