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Posted under: News Politics

Michelle Obama Plans To Register 1M New Voters

The former first lady launched her new initiative, Fight For Our Vote, to mobilize new voters and protect voting rights.

Michelle Obama is seeking to mobilize more than 1 million new voters for the 2022 midterm elections. The former first lady announced this new initiative, titled Fight For Our Vote, in an open letter published as an advertisement in the Jan. 9 edition of The New York Times and also posted it on social media. Citing various voter suppression efforts that are happening in states such as Georgia and Florida, and the failure of Congress to pass voting rights protections, Obama’s letter urges readers to join her in a campaign to mobilize Americans to vote and protect voting rights.

The letter sets out several goals for this year, including registering “more than a million new voters across the country.” The advertisement also calls for mobilizing at least 100,000 volunteers to help register voters and turn out the vote, and calls for an additional 100,000 people to contact their senators and urge them to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. The letter also calls for increased voter education and for lawyers to volunteer to fight voter suppression efforts in their states.

Dozens of voting rights organizations band together

Obama’s new initiative is being conducted by When We All Vote, a nonprofit organization that she started in 2018 to promote widespread participation in the electoral process. The organization — which cites leadership from celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Shonda Rhimes and Kerry Washington on its website — engaged in extensive voter registration and mobilization efforts in 2020. In addition to When We All Vote, 30 other voting advocacy and civil rights organizations signed Obama’s letter, including the NAACP, the National Urban League, More Than a Vote and Rock the Vote. Also listed among the campaign’s partner organizations is Fair Fight Action, the voting rights organization founded by Stacey Abrams, who is running for governor of Georgia this year.

The larger fight for voting rights continues

Michelle Obama’s move comes amid an important and turbulent time for voting rights. Black voters came out in record numbers to elect her husband, former President Barack Obama, and his running mate, Joe Biden, in 2008 and again in 2012. But several factors, including a 2013 Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act and backlash after a strong Black vote for Joe Biden and other Democrats in the 2020 election cycle, have led to a concerted attack against voting rights.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris recently delivered impassioned speeches urging Congress to pass voting rights protections. As Blavity previously reported, a combined version of the two voting rights bills was passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday, setting up a debate in the Senate over changing filibuster rules to pass the legislation. And the family of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has urged that the 2022 commemoration of his holiday — which happens to fall on Michelle Obama’s birthday this year, Jan. 17 — be used as a moment to promote voting rights protections. Former First Lady Obama’s new Fight For Our Vote campaign is intended to complement these other efforts to protect and promote voting.

Announcement creates excitement for joining the fight

Former First Lady Obama’s announcement has generated enthusiasm from a number of circles. The progressive group Occupy Democrats shared news of her campaign on Twitter and asked followers to retweet the message “to thank her for working to save our republic!”

Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser for President Barack Obama, declared, “I'm committed to working every day to protect our voices and the pillars of our democracy,” and encouraged others to join the campaign.

Michelle Obama’s letter concludes by quoting the late John Lewis and his declaration that “democracy is not a state. It is an act.” Fight For Our Vote is launching in an election season of fierce battles over who can vote and when and how those votes can be cast. Those who want to join her, When We All Vote and the other organizations in the campaign, can do so by signing up here.
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