Former First Lady Michelle Obama launched a get-out-the-vote initiative in 2018. It is called When We All Vote. She enlisted some of her celebrity friends in the entertainment world of television, movies, and music to capture the attention of young people and others who may be first-time voters.
During the great hunkering down period we all find ourselves in right now, activists have had to be a little more creative than simply organizing rallies and special events. Everything is being done online now so Michelle Obama (or her people) came up with a way to continue on with her initiative. Couch parties were born. These virtual events are meant to be like an online house party featuring Michelle and her friends, hosted by DJ D-Nice. She co-hosted one Monday night. The website for When We All Vote offered a national call to action “with thousands of volunteers, partners and even a few celebrity supporters.” The celebrities and public figures participating with her were Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Board Chair Valarie Jarrett and President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Vanita Gupta. Obama’s participation Monday night amounted to her phoning in for a conference call.
“Americans should never have to choose between making their voices heard and keeping themselves and their families safe,” said Obama via a statement.
“We know that barriers to voting existed before this crisis, especially for young people and communities of color. Expanding access to vote-by-mail, online voter registration and early voting are critical steps for this moment— and they’re long overdue. There is nothing partisan about striving to live up to the promise of our country; making the democracy we all cherish more accessible; and protecting our neighbors, friends and loved ones as they participate in this cornerstone of American life.”
Additionally, after the call, When We All Vote hosted DJ D-Nice’s Club Quarantine – don’t look at me, I don’t make up these names – which was billed as a Couch Party 2.0. These couch parties were hosted by volunteers and partner organizations. When We All Vote Ambassadors Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, Alyssa Milano, Kelly McCreary and Erica Campbell were to “drop into” these parties to thank and encourage volunteers.
The event was described as non-partisan but you’ll note that none of the names mentioned in the advertising were conservative or Republican voters. In case you aren’t familiar with her, Erica Campbell, for example, is a Christian gospel singer but openly boasted about praying for Trump’s impeachment as far back as 2017. (Her sister Tina, the other member of the singing duo is a Trump supporter.)
As a post in Breitbart points out, Michelle’s initiative is full of former Obama officials. What a surprise.
Michelle Obama was the marquee speaker at the virtual “couch party” organized by When We All Vote, a voter registration group that bills itself as non-partisan but is stacked with former Obama administration officials. In addition to Jarrett, its leaders include Tina Tchen, who served as Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, and Kyle Lierman, who served as a policy advisor in the White House Office of Public Engagement.
It’s especially important to push mail-in voting now, using the coronavirus pandemic as a perfect excuse for it. You know, because the Orange Man is bad.
Voting should never be difficult and never be a partisan issue,” Michelle Obama told viewers via phone Monday evening during the online drive. The former first lady spoke about the recent Wisconsin primaries, which took place in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and how the organization’s members need to push vote-by-mail for the elections in November.
“I don’t think you need me to tell you that this work is more urgent than ever before,” she said.
Valerie Jarrett stressed that “voting transcends politics”, whatever that means, and that everyone should be able to vote by mail. But why stop there? She also added, “Every single American should be able to register to vote online.” Yikes. Didn’t Clinton’s Motor Voter Act bring about enough problems, like illegal immigrants voting in elections?
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tossed in some hot takes about mail-in voting, too. Hanks was a bit incoherent, though, if you ask me, tying in Type 2 Diabetes. I don’t understand why he thinks anyone would think that disease stops him from voting. They are the official Hollywood faces of COVID-19 these days since Hanks spread the word of their diagnosis while in Australia and their stories as they recovered. I’m probably not supposed to question his reasoning.
Co-chairs Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson appeared remotely from Los Angeles, to liven up the virtual party with star power. “I want to vote no matter where I am,” said Hanks, who played a toy xylophone and appeared in a giddy mood. “I have Diabetes type 2 and I still want to be able to vote.”
Wilson called vote by mail a “great compromise” and said that “we as Americans should be able to request the options” of a mail-in ballot.
Truth is, most states offer vote by mail, some placing restrictions (like Texas) and others have completely gone to mail-in voting, like the States of Washington, Hawaii, Oregon, and Colorado. While Democrats are using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to make mail-in voting a nationwide reality for everyone, Republicans and President Trump point to the increased risks of voter fraud and irregularities.
Senior citizens and disabled people have used mail-in voting for years in most states. A report by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission says about one-quarter of all voters in the 2018 midterm elections voted by mail. Currently, 28 states, other than the ones that have gone completely with mail-in voting, allow voters to request a mail-in ballot without requiring a reason.
Despite what Valerie Jarrett says, voting is, in fact, by nature a political and partisan activity. Voting does not “transcend politics” – it is politics. Battles between the two major parties are being waged in courthouses around the country in preparation for the 2020 presidential election.
On March 30, 27 New Mexico county clerks petitioned the state Supreme Court to conduct their June 2 primary almost entirely by mail and allow all voters to be mailed an absentee ballot. State Republicans sued to oppose both changes.
In Texas, the Democratic Party sued the state’s Republican leadership in federal court on April 7 to allow no-excuse absentee voting. Texas law requires voters to provide an excuse, such as disability, when requesting an absentee ballot.
In Georgia, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Republican secretary of state last Wednesday in federal court for requiring voters to pay their own postage when submitting mail-in absentee ballots and applications, arguing that was tantamount to a poll tax.
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our way of life and now how we vote is on the line, too. Never let a crisis go to waste.