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At Voter Mobilization Event, Tom Hanks Says If You Don't Vote 'You Can't Complain'

Lucy Perkins
90.5 WESA

Tom Hanks took the stage in at the University of Pittsburgh on Tuesday evening to try and get young Pennsylvanians excited about the upcoming election. And he urged the audience to bring a friend on Election Day.


“Whatever you believe in whatever you support, whether you wanna keep things going as they are, or even if you wanna see change,” said Hanks. “And here’s the secret to getting people to come with you to vote: It’s a very simple secret, a box of donuts. Right on the dashboard of your car. Say, ‘No - not til you vote! Put that back.’”


Hanks headlined the event on National Voter Registration Day at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland. He emphasized how low voter turnout is in the United States, and said that when fewer people vote, elections are determined the minority of the country, not the majority.  


“It’s very possible to assume some decision will be made, I don’t really need to take part in [elections]. Well I say, if you don’t take part in the decision being made, you don’t get to complain, so shut up.”


A new non-profit, When We All Vote, sponsored the event. The organization is nonpartisan, though it is co-chaired by former First Lady Michelle Obama. Hanks is also a co-chair, as are celebrities Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Janelle Monae.


The closest Hanks came to mentioning political parties, was when he talked about how just a few votes can swing a precinct -- and change the outcome of an election.


Other speakers included Steelers executive Jim Rooney and Kiya Tomlin, fashion designer and wife of the team's head coach.


“Did you know that in the entire state of Pennsylvania, we do not have a single woman in Congress?” Tomlin said. “That is bizarre. That’s why it’s so critical to vote. We can’t allow ourselves to become content to merely watch, or even tune out, the daily reality show of keeping up with Washington, while we let old rich white men -- no offense -- make the decisions for us without our input.”


The deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania is October 9. The election is November 6.

Lucy Perkins is an editor and also reports on federal government and elections for the Government and Accountability team. Before joining the WESA newsroom, she was an NPR producer in Washington, D.C., working on news programs like All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. You can reach her at lperkins@wesa.fm.