PunkVoter.com is a political activist group and website founded in 2004 by Mike Burkett, better known as “Fat Mike” of the punk rock band NOFX. Punkvoter’s members include some three-dozen record companies and more than 130 punk rock bands.
Created in an effort to prevent the re-election of President George W. Bush to a second term, Punkvoter aimed to “expose the chaotic policies of George Bush Jr. and his … administration.” Calling Bush a “boob” who “inherited all that he has,” Punkvoter added: “[W]e think it’s a disgrace to democracy to have someone elected on the basis of their bloodlines rather than on their merits…. Here we are, in what we consider the world’s purest democracy, and who is our leader? The idiot son of an asshole.” According to Punkvoter, Bush was guilty of “waging wars on false pretenses” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The key to removing Bush from office, said Punkvoter, would be to conduct an aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign on behalf of Bush’s opponent in 2004, Democrat John Kerry. Noting that “the 18 to 24-year-old voter demographic [had] dropped to an all time low of only 38% in 2000,” Punkvoter resolved to “activate punks and other disenfranchised young people to participate in [future] elections.” “Our goal,” said Punkvoter, “is to educate, register and mobilize over 500,000 of today’s youth as one voice … to affect real change nationally.” The Punkvoter website provided (as it does to this day) a link to an online voter-registration form.
In an interview posted to AlterNet, Mike Burkett said that in his opinion, John Kerry was “all right” because “he’s a snowboarder and used to play in a band.” Burkett also said: “I don’t actually read as much [about politics] as I should because the more I read the more bummed out I get, when I read political books.”
In an effort to spark a spirit of political activism among young people, Punkvoter organized “Rock Against Bush,” a series of concerts that eventually led to the production of a compilation CD (featuring music from bands on the tour) and a DVD containing political commentary and skits. This CD/DVD package sold 20,000 copies in its first week alone.
Punkvoter identifies the following as its chief political concerns:
Protecting Our Personal Freedoms: “We will be the loud, clear voice for the many minorities in our society. Our government was created to protect us not harass us. We want to make sure our government continues to guarantee all of our reproductive freedoms, and all of our rights to our own personal privacies.”
Restoring Our Environment: “[O]ur government has an important role in standing up to the big businesses and special interests that are currently trying to dictate disastrous environmental policy.”
Overhauling Our Justice Department: “We must ban government sponsored executions and stop long-term imprisonment of non-violent criminals. It is time to repeal the Patriot Act and restore our first Amendment rights, repeal the Rave Act and restore our Freedom to Assemble, and rewrite our countries [sic] archaic and in-humane drug laws.”
Demanding Economic Responsibility: “Why is our government making decisions to spend [billions of dollars] on a war in Iraq instead of providing universal healthcare coverage, improving public education, and providing assistance to the … unemployed?”
In January 2004, Punkvoter.com partnered with NARAL Pro-Choice America in an initiative “to educate the next generation of leaders about the Bush Administration’s ongoing efforts to limit the right to choose [abortion], restrict access to contraception and deny young people responsible sex education.” The partnership was announced by NARAL President Kate Michelman, who said: “We’re working with Punkvoter.com to spread the word to young people about the Bush Administration’s relentless attempt to put government into our private lives … to limit reproductive freedom.”
In an October 2004 press conference at the University of South Florida, Gloria Steinem announced that she, too, was collaborating with Punkvoter.com, Young Voter Alliance, and the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates to emphasize that the future of abortion rights would be in jeopardy if George W. Bush were to be re-elected as U.S. President.
After Bush won re-election, Burkett stated: “I was only bummed for a couple days, cuz we did our part at Punkvoter. We accomplished everything we set out to do. We just lost the election. If I had done nothing, I would have felt a lot worse.” He also told CNN: “Bush getting elected was good for punk music. Now people have something to get pissed off about.”
In 2008, Punkvoter supported the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama.