Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, numerous voter engagement campaigns are reaching out to millions of Americans to register and prepare them to vote, including the former premiere’s When We All Vote initiative. Lady Michelle Obama who had her virtual launch rally last week.
When We All Vote is a national voting initiative under the organization, Civic Nation, and it was founded by the former first lady in 2018. They had their National Voter Registration Week of Action from 19 to September 25, hosting different events encouraging people to register and plan when and how they will vote.
“Everything from health care to education to climate change to how your communities are vetted by the judges who determine what justice we get, all of those things are on the ballot,” Ms. Obama at the rally.
Throughout the rally, which was streamed on their Youtube channel, the co-chairs and directors of the initiative made clear the goal of instilling the importance of involving everyone and that they can do so from different ways. These include, above all, talking to family and friends and having them register with a voting plan, a major point Obama emphasized during his remarks. She called on all listeners to contact six people they know to discuss their voter registration status and plans to vote.
“You know the people in your community, you know why people are sitting. They won’t just listen to me or Rita (Wilson) or Sheryl Lee (Ralph). They will listen to you because they trust you…your grandmother, aunts and uncles. So we need your commitment,” Obama said.
The organization website allows visitors to check their registration status and self-register for their states. Additional information on mailing in a mail-in or absentee ballot, finding polling places, knowing deadlines, and understanding voter rights is also available.
They also encouraged listeners to get in on the action by signing up to volunteer, organize election campaigns, start a When We All Vote chapter in their schools or communities and more.
Obama serves as co-chair of When We All Vote alongside various influential celebrities in different arenas like NBA stars Steph Curry and Chris Paul, award-winning musical artists like HER and Jennifer Lopez, Broadway stars like Lin Manuel Miranda, stars movies like Tom Hanks and social media personalities like Liza Koshy. The purpose of all these numbers is to reach and engage as many Americans as possible in the voting process and to educate American voters on the importance of civic engagement.
The campaign partners with several other notable civil rights organizations that earlier this year promised register over a million new voters for the midterm elections. A partner organization, Vote.org, recently outlined its plan to invest $10 million to engage young voters and voters of color in their ready to vote country. Vote.org CEO Andrea Hailey said voter engagement to register on their website has increased this midterm season and they have registered about 380,000 people since 2020.
“We’re all coming together to form a partnership to make sure every voter has the opportunity to register and have access,” Hailey said of the partnership.
Hailey gave insight into what they see from voters and how they feel during this midterm season.
“After the Supreme Court decision overruling Roe, we saw an increase of about 1,000% in enrollment in Kansas. We also saw a spike of over 500% in 10 other states including states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania…nationally we saw a spike of over 300% . We just saw an 11% spike in the youth vote in 2020. I think people want to make their voices heard. And I’m pretty excited and optimistic that people will show up again,” Hailey said.
Student organizations, such as Howard University’s Black Girls Vote Chapter, are also doing their part to encourage young voters. Libby Spekhardt, vice president of Black Girls Vote Howard Chapter, said they have worked hard to register students to vote and turnout for their events has exceeded expectations. Spekhardt also notes that the frustration is evident, saying some younger voters are becoming discouraged and disengaged.
“I’ve seen a lot of young people fed up with older elected officials, myself included…every classmate, friend or neighbor we talk to ahead of this election will have a huge impact,” Spekhardt said.
“What we need is a change in policy. We need a federal policy like the John Lewis Vote Act, like the For The People Act… The goal here is to prepare people to vote. What we’re trying to do is make sure people have a plan, that they execute that plan early,” Hailey said of voter suppression efforts and how her organization is helping fight. against that.
Obama also addressed concerns about voter suppression during the virtual rally.
“I don’t care what laws have been passed. All we have to do is register those eligible and able to vote…and we’re counting on you to do that,” she said. “Wake up feeling great on November 9, proud to know that you did everything you could to get your entire community registered and ready to vote this year.”
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman