Former First Lady Michelle Obama used her voluminous platform to share a story of a high school junior in Atlanta, Georgia, who “found her passion for helping her peers discover the power in their vote and their voice.”
Amplifying a Teen Vogue story on Twitter, where Obama has 22 million followers, the former First Lady pushed one of her favorite democracy-expanding initiatives — getting out the vote. And especially the youth vote — a huge factor in Barack Obama‘s winning the presidency in 2008.
Through @WhenWeAllVote's My School Votes, high school junior Imani Johnson found her passion for helping her peers discover the power in their vote and their voice.— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) May 23, 2023
Read her story in @TeenVogue: https://t.co/2chzeBSwlI
The story — though a first-person narrative — isn’t just about Imani Johnson, who wrote about becoming president of a school club to “promote voter registration and encourage students to be aware of their rights and place in this country.”
Johnson, a teen not yet eligible to vote but eligible to influence, addresses a profound disengagement from the political process that most teens and younger people are experiencing — and how to combat it.
[Johnson reports that in “nine states with some of the most competitive elections (Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) youth voter turnout in the 2022 midterms was 31%,” according to a Tufts study.]
The result? More than two-thirds of youth voters voluntarily have no say in who represents their interests in state, national and local governments.
Perhaps assuming that many of those youths on the electoral sidelines are progressive-minded, Johnson — with Michelle Obama’s imprimatur — brings a message that voting can help, among other things, reverse the tide of disenfranchisement experienced by minority groups. She cites herself as an example.
“Voting isn’t the only answer,” Johnson writes, “but election outcomes do shape the lives of queer, Black women like me — and they affect you too.”