As the 2018 midterm elections draw closer, former First Lady Michelle Obama is getting involved — but not necessarily in the way that Democrats had hoped. Michelle Obama's midterms plan begins with a voter registration drive, and it will be a nonpartisan effort to encourage more Americans to vote.
Democrats have been urging Michelle to campaign for their party's candidates ever since she and her husband left the White House, but according to Politico, Michelle has "little affinity" for electoral politics, and a nonpartisan initiative is a way for her to nonetheless engage voters. The initiative, which was announced on Thursday, is called "When We All Vote," and is a joint effort between Michelle and a number of A-list celebrities. Joining her in launching this voter registration drive are singers Janelle Monáe and Faith Hill, Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda, and actor Tom Hanks.
According to Politico, the "When We All Vote" initiative launch comes after months of uncertainty, but an unnamed person close to her reportedly told Politico that Michelle is "really excited" about this new project. In its efforts to engage as many voters as possible, "When We All Vote" reportedly plans to hold events, rallies, and trainings prior to the mid-term elections this November.
Democrats are concerned that they will fall short in the midterms, especially now that one of the party's most popular members will be focusing on nonpartisan efforts rather than actively campaigning. However, the events planned by the voter registration initiative will be designed to get more Americans to register to vote, regardless of party affiliation, which according to Politico is exactly what Michelle wants. She and Obama reportedly believe that an increased number of people voting overall will ultimately benefit the Democratic Party.
“Voting is the only way to ensure that our values and priorities are represented in the halls of power,” Michelle 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.”
The "When We All Vote" launch video — which appears on the initiative's official website — features Michelle and Miranda making voter registration calls. Obama also reiterates the strong message she made in her statement about voting in elections on every level of government — not just for the president.
Politico reported that "When We All Vote" will be incorporated as a nonprofit that is independent of the Obamas' personal offices and the Obama Foundation. However, many of the people who will reportedly work for the initiative were once prominent members of the Obama administration. Valerie Jarrett and Pete Rouse, who were both senior Obama advisors, will both be involved in "When We All Vote," with Jarrett serving as president of the board. Moreover, former first lady chief of staff Tina Tchen will be the initiative's treasurer, and former senior policy adviser Kyle Lierman will be its CEO.
"When We All Vote" is still reportedly in the process of raising money for an $8 million budget, with its organizers seeking out corporate sponsorships and foundation grants. This money will, in part, go toward the initiative's three-part effort to recruit voters, improve voter registration processes and increase both dialogue about and participation in voting nationwide. The initiative's organizers also plan to reach out to potential voters personally and directly, through both online and in-person approaches.