Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools: Why Voting Matters


JamBase partnered with HeadCount to ask Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools questions about why voting matters to him. With early voting underway in many states leading up to Election Day on Tuesday, November 3rd, we wanted to see how being a musician influences Schools’ decision to vote.

Check out Dave’s answers to our questions about voting below. If you have questions about voting, HeadCount has information regarding dates for important deadlines in your state, what’s on your ballot and everything you need to vote — whether in person or by mail. Even if you think you’re registered to vote, head to HeadCount.org to check your status and make sure your vote is counted in November.

Here’s Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools:

What are some of the aspects of voting that are most important to you?

Voting is the single most effective way for a person to have a VOICE in our political system. It is one of the ways we hold our elected officials accountable and remind them that they serve to represent us. This is no more evident than in local elections. You can literally go to a city council meeting and make your voice heard in person.

What would you say to someone who does not think voting matters or is not planning to vote?

There is nothing POWER loves more than a vacuum. If a U.S. citizen does not use their VOICE to make their opinion known then generally those in power will move to FILL that silence with their own voices. To someone who doesn’t plan to vote I would use the 2016 presidential election as an example: With 100 million registered voters abstaining from voting, Trump defeated Clinton only in the Electoral College but not in the popular vote. If this result upset you, and you didn’t vote, I would HOPE you will reconsider voting in the future, no matter who you choose to vote for.

Why is voting and participating in democracy important to you as a musician?

With funding disappearing from music and arts programs across the board, in the U.S., voting is a way to SUPPORT elected officials who feel that these programs should be more heavily funded. And to take it a step further, I know how important exposure to music and the arts at a young age was to me; therefore I personally prefer to fund the IMAGINATION of young people in the U.S. rather than using our tax dollars to blow up entire villages elsewhere in the world and giving an Army surplus tank to a small town in Georgia.

Why should voting in this election matter to music fans?

With the closure of so many music venues and nightclubs due to COVID-19 lockdowns, I hope that live music fans take a good look at some of the legislation on the table for supporting those venues and that they will vote for those candidates who have openly endorsed these venue saving initiatives. The little places are where great bands start and we need them to SURVIVE. Also, these venues employ actual human beings who have lost their means of support, and, in a country like the United States during a pandemic, we all need to look out for one another. We are all in this together!

How are you making sure that your vote is being counted this election?

I have voted absentee for at least 30 years because I am almost always on the road at election time. In California, there is a government website where mail-in ballots and other provisional ballots can be tracked.

Have you checked your registration status?

Yes! It is so darn easy that I do it before every election cycle, just to make sure. Takes about two minutes.

For the election in November:

Do you plan to vote by mail, and if so, have you requested a ballot?

Yes, I vote absentee and I will personally drop my ballot off this year.

Are you taking steps to make sure your ballot is submitted correctly and counted?


If voting in person (or dropping off a mailed ballot), do you know your polling place?

Yes, as well as official drop off locations.

If allowed in your state, will you vote early?


Outside of planning for the election, what have you been up to?

Mostly walking the dog and avoiding fires in Sonoma County … Musically: myself, Jim Scott and Gary Waldman are finishing up the massive Highway Butterfly album recordings in which over 30 different artists celebrate the songs of Neal Casal. Also, we are getting the Neal Casal Music Foundation up and running so that we can get help to those who need it as well as putting musical instruments into the hands of kids in New Jersey and New York (areas where Neal grew up). There are cool surprises coming up from the Widespread Panic world that we are pretty excited about and you’ll find out about those soon enough.

Visit HeadCount.org for information regarding voting in your state.