It's been nearly two years since Michelle Obama founded her electoral participation initiative "When We All Vote." In that time, WWAV claims to have "organized 2,500 local voter registration events across the country, engaged 200 million Americans online about the significance of voting, and texted nearly four million voters the resources to register and get out to vote" ahead of the 2018 midterms, but has been relatively quiet about the upcoming general election — until now.
On Thursday, longtime Obama family advisor and fellow WWAV co-chair Valerie Jarrett joined the former first lady on a call with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to announce a new initiative called "Civic Cities" aimed at increasing voter turnout and participation across the country through a network of local elected officials.
"Voting is bigger than any one party, one issue, one candidate or one election,” Obama said during the call. “We’ve got to strengthen our democracy from the bottom up and ensure that more Americans participate in every single election, from the local school board to Congress. That’s why I launched When We All Vote, and it’s why we’re partnering with our nation’s mayors to make sure that every eligible voter in every community can freely, fairly and safely make their voices heard"
Speaking with the Washington Post, Mesa, AZ, mayor John Giles — a Republican — explained that he joined the initiative first and foremost because he truly believed in its goal, and was looking for help from his fellow mayors on how to increase voter registration among his city's Latinx population.
"I have a great deal of respect for Mrs. Obama, but she was not the motivating force for my getting involved,” Giles explained. “The cause is really the compelling reason to get involved."
According to the Civic Cities landing page, mayors who join the initiative will not only have access the broader network of participants, and various unspecified resources, webinars and other "ongoing support," but will also "receive regular voter registration data to help set a city-wide goal for 2020 and track progress throughout the program."
Notably, participating mayors will also "have an opportunity to be promoted on WWAV’s national platform through media, press releases, and social media channels," which is sure to be an appealing prospect for any city leaders looking to boost their national profile in conjunction with the "most popular" woman in the country.