Michelle Obama is using her voice as a private citizen and former First Lady to empower the American people to participate in upcoming midterm elections.
The non-partisan initiative named When We All Vote, aims to register as many people as possible ahead of the upcoming midterm elections, an event which usually sees low voter turnout. 36.4 percent of eligible voters turned out in 2014, PBS reports, compared to 41 percent in 2010.
With issues at risk such as women’s reproductive rights, LBTQ rights, immigration and gerrymandering, Obama enlisted a few famous co-chairs including playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, actor Tom Hanks, NBA star Chris Paul and singers Janelle Monae, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, to register people to vote.
Through the power of fundraising, When We All Vote aims to raise $8 million through partnerships and grants, while offering training and refining the voter registration process. A series online and in person events across 50 states will include rallies and events leading up to November.
Obama shared a video announcing the initiative to her social media followers on Thursday.
“In my family, voting was a sacred responsibility, one which we never took for granted,” she wrote. “I’m excited to be a part of @WhenWeAllVote to inspire and empower all eligible voters to make their voices heard. #WhenWeAllVote, we can make history.”
Voter turn out has generally declined since the 2008 election where voters showed out in droves–61.6 percent casted a vote. 58 percent of eligible voters voted in 2016, compared with 57.5 percent of eligible voters in the last presidential election in 2012.
But millions of eligible American citizens remain unregistered and When We All Vote aims to change that. As Janelle Monae states in the video, four million Americans turn 18 this year–offering a large part of the population who now has the power to change the course of history.
“Voting is the only way to ensure that our values and priorities are represented in the halls of power,” Obama said in a statement. “And it’s not enough to just vote for president every four years. We all have to vote in every single election: for mayor, governor, school board, state legislature and Congress. The leaders we elect to these offices help determine just about every aspect of our lives and our democracy. So the future of our families, our communities and our country belongs to those of us who show up, cast our votes, and make our voices heard.”
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