Michelle Obama Seeks to Increase Youth Voter Turnout with 'When We All Vote'

Former First Lady Michelle Obama launched a new initiative encouraging teachers to help their students register to vote. The “When We All Vote” initiative is aimed at the millions of young people who will be eligible to vote in the November 2020 elections.

In a video published on July 11, Obama said that students will be active in shaping “the course of our communities and our country.”

“Last year I launched When We All Vote, a nonpartisan get-out-the-vote effort to help make sure everyone makes their voice heard, loud and clear, in our elections,” Obama said. The former first lady pointed to the historic voter turnout during the 2018 midterm elections and said it is progress that should be celebrated. However, she said that the number of people who went to the ballot box to vote was “still far too low.”

“Only 1 in 3 of our youngest voters cast a ballot. That means two-thirds of these young people aren’t showing up,” Obama said. “It’s up to us to flip that script, to show young people how crucial their voices are.”

Voter turnout among voters aged 18 to 26 increased by 79 percent from the 2016 election cycle — when 20 percent of that age group voted — to the midterm elections in 2018 that saw 36 percent of that cohort vote, according to The Hill. This growth in voter turnout was the largest among any age group between the two elections.

Obama noted that it sometimes just takes a few votes to sway the decision on key issues. “Obviously, we shouldn’t be telling them how to vote or who to vote for, we just want them to vote, period,” she said.

She called on educators to help eligible students register to vote and to make “voting a lifelong habit.” Obama further stated that When We All Vote wants teachers to make their schools voter registration hubs and that the organization will help provide tools, training, support, and the connections to make that possible.

“I hope you’ll join us because this is bigger than one party or one election. It’s about empowering the next generation to make their mark on our future,” Obama said.

According to The Hill, Obama launched the voter turnout organization in 2018 with the help of actors Tom Hanks and Lin-Manuel Miranda and NBA point guard Chris Paul.

During her appearance at Essence Fest, Obama said she and former President Barack Obama, will not be endorsing any Democratic candidate until the primaries. “Barack and I are going to support whoever wins the primary, so… our primary focus is letting the primary process play out, because it’s very early,” she said, according to ABC News.

“I mean, that’s one of the things that we learned in the campaign. It is early; it’s like trying to figure out who’s winning the World Series on the first seven games,” Obama said. “I mean that’s where we are right now, it is so early.”

Obama discussed voting rates among Black Americans and encouraged attendees to vote in the upcoming presidential elections. “I fear that sometimes people might have thought that Barack made it look easy, so it must be easy. It’s kind of like, I guess, if the Black guy can do it, anybody can do it,” she said. “And that’s not true.”

She concluded: “I feel the power in the Superdome right here. I feel it. I feel it right now. If each of us does our part and we go out there and we get educated and we register and we get people registered to vote. We can change things.”

The Democratic field currently has 25 candidates, including Barack Obama’s former vice president Joe Biden.

National polls show Biden leading among several Democratic heavyweights, including Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

A poll by Politico and Morning Consult released on July 15 placed Biden ahead with the support of 32 percent of respondents. Sanders followed with 19 percent and Warren with 14 percent.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.