EXTENDED VOICES: ‘CSI’ STAR HELPS GET OUT THE VOTE
Actress Says Women Not Voting in Last Election Saddens Her
Source: ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos
Oct. 14, 2006
Marg Helgenberger, the Emmy-award-winning star of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” will tell the story on national television about her “first time” — her first time voting, that is. The actress has teamed up with “Women’s Voices, Women Vote” for a PSA campaign that encourages women to show their strength in numbers at the polls this November.
“You want me to tell you about the first time I did it?” several women say in the ad. “I think the best time is in the fall. I like to do it in the morning. I told everybody, I had such a big mouth about it. I made the right choice.”
Helgenberger sat down with ABC News’ Peter Imber on “This Week” to tell the nation why voting is important to her.
Watch ABC News’ “This Week” Sunday to see Helgenberger discuss her role in the campaign to get women to vote. Check your local listings for “This Week” air times in your area.
Marg Helgenberger: My first time was, I was in college. And it was the presidential election. And, well, I should take this back. I remember when I was in high school, my sister was a, she’s about a year older — 11.5 months, to be exact — older than I am, and she was able to vote. And I was actually quite envious that she was able to vote and I couldn’t. And four years later, of course, I was able to. And it didn’t actually go in … my favor. It didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. But at least I got out there and I … did my part. And I felt good about that.
Peter Imber: How important of an issue is this for you?
Helgenberger: Voting? It’s a pretty big issue. I mean, I’m always kind of astonished by the amount of people that don’t vote. … I encourage people on the set; “Are you voting? Are you voting … in the next election?” And some of them say, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know much about the candidates or the issues.” And I actually got this answer back: “Well, then I have to– If I register, then it means I might have to be up for jury duty.” Now this is just something, kind of a lame answer like that. Because there’s a lot of people that are apolitical, a lot of people that, I don’t want to say they don’t care, they just don’t want to go to take the extra effort to go to a voting booth. … It’s beyond my comprehension why somebody doesn’t want to get out there, and it’s our right, you know? And I don’t … get it. …
Imber: How important is the women’s vote? …
Helgenberger: I think the women’s vote is very important. I think the fact that there was 20 million women, single women, in the last election that didn’t vote– When I heard that figure, I was kind of saddened by it, actually. … Women had to fight for their right to vote, and there were so many of us that didn’t. I did. But, so it made me wonder why. And I guess I’m hearing that women felt that their vote doesn’t matter; they feel somewhat powerless in the situation. But if this group of women were to be hopefully inspired by these ads and to actually make it to the voting booth, they could really make a difference in the election results. …
Imber: What do you hope that this ad campaign might accomplish?
Helgenberger: That … the outcome results in many women going to the polls and, you know, marking their ballot, and women that hadn’t in the 2004 elections. That would be my goal. And everybody behind this campaign, that’s what we’re all hoping for, is that … we can, you know, decrease that number of 20 million down to zero. That’s the ideal. But, you know, any sort of dent we can make is what we’re looking for. …
Imber: From the time when you started to vote until now, do you sense it’s become more important to you to vote?
Helgenberger: I suppose it has become more important. And maybe that has to do with the times in that I sense a lot of people that are apolitical and a generation that … seem rather jaded or cynical about the whole process. So I think it has become more important because of that, because I, in trying to reach out to those people and to get the message out that it is important that you count and you matter and to perhaps change their view. So yeah, it does.
Imber: You must be approached a lot to, you know, front for different issues. Why did you choose this one?
Helgenberger: Oh, a few reasons. I’d have to say, first off, a friend of mine that I’ve known for quite a long time was involved in this campaign. And I’ve always respected and — whatever she does politically or entertainment wise. And I felt that it was a really good campaign that this organization, Women’s Voices, Women Vote, I think, I knew very little about, I admit, prior to this. But I’m finding out that it is a great source of information for women, that they can log on and get … not only where they can vote but what their issues might be. If they don’t have child care, [it tells them] to get to the polling booths so that somebody within this organization in that community might be able to help them out with that or whatever — whatever it’s going to take to make their life easier so that voting can be made easier for them.
And it’s women, you know. I think that women don’t realize that, sometimes forget how powerful they are. … I have a teenage son, and I have seen throughout the years of watching him grow and how girls — now they’re coming young women and stuff — how they have, you know, they seem so much more in control and so much more complex and sophisticated than the boys. And I hate to say that all of a sudden they become young women and that’s young adults and that it changes — that all of a sudden women become less powerful or they’re unsure of themselves or less self-confident. … This is an opportunity for them to feel empowered. …
Imber: The PSA, “My First Time,” it’s very funny, it’s very sexy. Do you think that that can actually get more women out to vote?
Helgenberger: The campaign? I hope so. It certainly will get people’s attention. And, you know, hey, if getting people to vote, if something with sexual connotations will get people to vote, why not, you know?
Imber: Well, it will clearly get the men to watch.
Helgenberger: That campaign? We will get their attention. Yes. But it will get the women’s attention, too. I mean, you know, everybody sort of likes a little sexual innuendo. …
Imber: For you, for the people who stand behind the ads to do this, how important a mission is this?
Helgenberger: Twenty million women. That’s the mission. That’s a lot of people out there that can, you know, make a huge difference. So I think it’s very important.