John Oliver Says He "Nearly Burst Into Tears" Voting for the First Time as an American Citizen

After becoming an American citizen in December 2019, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver is celebrating a civic milestone this year. For the TV host's candid reaction, keep reading.

By Samantha Schnurr Nov 03, 2020 2:43 PMTags
Watch: Election 2020: Lady Gaga, Lizzo & More Rock the Vote

John Oliver is celebrating a civic first

During a virtual appearance on The Late Show Monday, the Last Week Tonight host reflected on his first time voting in a United States presidential election this year after becoming an American citizen in December 2019. 

"It was honestly, it was amazing," Oliver told Colbert. "Putting [the candidates] aside, as an immigrant who had just got his citizenship in December of last year, I was waiting for that to feel real—when you worry about your immigration status all the time and even getting your passport still doesn't feel real because you haven't tested it against a system."

Originally, Oliver thought he would feel the impact of his citizenship when he traveled. "I had thought this will feel real when I leave America and I come back and I'm treated differently by the system," he explained. However, that time didn't really come until a more recent moment in the voting process. 

Stars Share Why They're Voting

"Standing in line I thought maybe this will be it and I didn't feel it," he recalled. "Giving them my name and getting the ballot, I didn't feel it. Scanning it into the machine and the machine saying 'Your vote has been counted,' I nearly burst into tears."

Oliver wasn't kidding. "That is the truth," he confirmed. "My eyes got misty."

Of course, the reality of where he was also sunk in. As he told Colbert, "I thought, 'I don't know if I can cry in a voting station.'"

For more stars voting for the first time, just keep scrolling. Plus, read what voting means to 100 women with E!'s exclusive here

Yolanda Hadid

The model shared a photo marking her mom, Yolanda Hadid's, experience as a first-time voter. "Took my mama to vote for the first time today!!! She became an American citizen just recently and this year she was so determined to get out and vote," Bella wrote on Instagram. "I am so proud of her!!! Wearing our best Blues!!!!"

Noah Centineo

The To All the Boys I've Loved Before star shared on Instagram, "First timer over here."



Selena Gomez

The 28-year-old pop star said her voting record (or lack thereof) is nothing to be "ashamed" about, explaining, "I'm going to say that because I've never felt—and this is so true—and I'm now like admitting it to people, like my vote counts. Like, every little thing counts, so I just think some people get in their head, and they're like, 'Oh well, what does it matter?' And then once I really, really started going in and diving in to this, it's been all I can focus on."

Lola Consuelos

Kelly Ripa accompanied her 18-year-old daughter to the polls, writing on Instagram, "Michael and i voted a couple of days ago, but had to grab a pic of @theyoungestyung..."

Tyler, the Creator

In a PSA encouraging his to "pull up" on Election Day, the 29-year-old confirmed he'd be voting for the first time this year: "I know I'm the last person y'all should ever take advice from, but I'm reiterating what everyone else is saying. Please, please if you are young and your f--king back don't hurt, go to them polls and cast a f--king vote."

Cobie Smulders

The Canadian-born How I Met Your Mother actress became an American citizen in September. After casting her vote in the presidential election she shared on Instagram, "Done. Boom. Have you yet? Feels good."

Billie Eilish

Ahead of Nov. 3, the Grammy winner stressed the importance of first-timers exercising their right to vote. "I wish I didn't have to do this but it's come to this point and it's really important," Bille, 18, said in a video launching a voting initiative. "If you care about yourself, if you care about your friends and racial injustices and climate change, then you've gotta vote. Like, there's no excuse at this point."

Gregg Sulkin

"First time voting as an American citizen... and what an important election to have a voice. Make yours count. Go vote," the British actor posted on Instagram.

Chloe x Halle

In an op-ed for Nylon, the musical duo said they were both feeling "very hopeful" going into election season. Halle, 20, described, "We want to bring about so much change and we want to help our future. And we know that we have the power in our hands, and we know that at times where it feels discouraging and sometimes what we do doesn't mean anything. We have to snap out of that feeling. We have to realize that the more we come together to make a change and to use our voices, the more that we will see the results that we want."

Kelsea Ballerini

As the 27-year-old country music star put it, "...embarrassingly but honestly, this is my first time voting. Im not proud of it, but my naivety has kept me sheltered through a lot of my young adult life. BUT. As I've listened and learned, I've realized its our responsibility and privilege to use our voices to establish what we as human beings with beating hearts want to see in this country for not only ourselves...but our friends, neighbors, strangers, and future generations."

John Oliver

The Last Week Tonight host said he "nearly burst into tears" while voting in his first U.S. presidential election after becoming a citizen in 2019. "Standing in line I thought maybe this will be it and I didn't feel it," he recalled during an appearance on The Late Show. "Giving them my name and getting the ballot, I didn't feel it. Scanning it into the machine and the machine saying 'Your vote has been counted,' I nearly burst into tears."


On Election Day, the rapper and his friend, Drew Findling, pose for a post-voting picture. Findling captions their photo, "Proud to share the experience of @offsetyrn's first time voting in a presidential election."

The Migos rapper opened up about his experience with voter suppression in a PSA made in collaboration with When We All Vote. After being convicted of a felony at 17, his probation officer told him he was no longer eligible to vote. After learning this was not actually the case, Offset said he felt inspired to get involved and vote in Georgia's primary election this past June.  

"It still could be ten times better, but you gotta vote," the now 28-year-old shared. "That's what changes the rules, changes the laws. I really felt good voting, because I was told I couldn't, or I was told I wouldn't be able to clean up or get away from my past and look where I'm at now."

Maddie Ziegler & Nia Sioux

Taking to Instagram, the Dance Mom stars teamed up to encourage Gen Z to let their voices be heard in the presidential race. 

Addison Rae

After a false voting record surfaced online, the 20-year-old TikTok star told her millions of followers she had yet to even register to vote. Addison refuted, "I'm actually doing it for the first time with someone important and I'm excited to do so..."

Snoop Dogg

The legendary rapper, 49, said in a June interview that he was "brainwashed" into thinking he wasn't eligible to vote, explaining, "I ain't never voted a day in my life, but this year I think Imma get out and vote because I can't stand to see this punk in office one more year... For many years they had me brainwashed thinking that you couldn't vote cause you had a criminal record. I didn't know that. My record's been expunged, so now I can vote."

Ryan Reynolds

In true Ryan Reynolds fashion, the Canadian star shared on social media, "This is my first time voting in America. the Canadian. I'd like to thank my wife Blake for making my first time so gentle and loving. It was super scary at first, then exciting and now I'm a little tired. But proud. #VoteEarly."

Claire Holt

"To all the people who told me to go back to my own country when I voiced my opinion during the 2016 election..... THIS IS MY COUNTRY NOW AND I VOTED!" the Aussie-born actress wrote on Instagram after gaining her U.S. citizenship in 2019.

Shaquille O'Neal

At 48 years old, this year's presidential election will mark his first time voting. "I don't like being a hypocrite if I'm asking everybody to vote and enact change," the retired NBA star told USA Today Sports. "I can't ask people to vote if I don't vote... There's a lot of people speaking out and a lot of people that are fed up. That is good. But just like any business, there has to be proper planning. We're making a lot of noise, and now we have to urge people to vote and get people in places that understand what we're talking about so laws can be changed. That's how you get stuff done."

Kiernan Shipka

"Voting is COOL," the actress, who voted in her first presidential election at 20 years old, wrote on social media. 

Savannah Chrisley & Nanny Faye Chrisley

"I CAN' grandmother is 76 years old and she JUST voted for the FIRST TIME EVER and I got to be the one to take her," the Chrisley Knows Best star shared on Instagram. "beyond blessed! Every vote counts...GO OUT AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!"

Kaia Gerber

The 19-year-old supermodel wrote on Instagram, "i voted for the first time today and it felt really good. i'm so proud to be part of the election, because it's become so clear how much power young people have to push this country towards progress — as long as we participate. i don't want to grow up in a country that is going backwards. the past four years have shown us how much damage can be done when our leadership prioritizes property over people, tolerates racism, and ignores science. if you're not sure if you want to vote, i ask you to consider who and what will be most affected if you don't. please vote even if it sounds like a headache. do it with empathy, do it with love, and do it with reason because it matters."

Jana Kramer & Mike Caussin

At 36 and 33, respectively, Jana and Mike headed to the polls for the very first time this year. "I hate to admit this but I am anyways," the country singer shared, "This is the first time I've ever voted. The first time Mike has ever voted. I don't know why but I always felt like my vote didn't matter. But this year I just felt differently and I know more than ever it does matter."

Kanye West

"God is so good," the rapper turned aspiring politician tweeted. "Smiling face with smiling eyes Today I am voting for the first time in my life for the President of the United States, and it's for someone I truly"

Mike Tyson

Thanks to a new law that took effect in the boxer's home state of Nevada in 2019, Mike is now able to rock the vote. "This election will be my 1st time voting," the 54-year-old announced on Twitter. "I never thought I could because of my felony record. I'm proud to finally vote."

Tan France

The British Queer Eye star became a U.S. citizen in June, sharing on Instagram at the time, "For me, this is monumental. It's something I've been working towards for literally 20 years, which makes this all the more emotional. And now, I will exercise my constitutional right as an American. Today, I will register to vote, and vote for the change I wish to see in OUR nation."

For the latest news on the 2020 presidential election, click here.