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Students urged to vote | The Triangle

Students urged to vote

Michael Blake, who works in the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, spoke to local government officials, small business leaders and journalists Sept. 28 during a visit to Philadelphia in support of the Operation Vote campaign.

For many, this year’s election may seem far away, but for Blake, the project’s national deputy director, Nov. 6 is just around the corner. To those involved in politics, this is a limited, critical time to encourage citizens to participate in the upcoming election. Operation Vote, one initiative of President Obama’s re-election campaign, targets groups that traditionally have low voter turnout rates in an effort to get them registered and voting.

According to Blake, “Operation Vote is focused on helping voters to get registered, get mobilized and to turn out to vote.” He explained that the initiative targets all different constituencies, especially women; young Americans; African Americans; Latinos; veterans; and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Blake warns disgruntled citizens not to “sit on the sidelines” because “there’s too much at stake.” He said he believes that those who do nothing to change current circumstances have no right to complain about the repercussions. He also pointed out what President Obama has accomplished in spite of the gridlock in the legislative branch of the government. For example, Obama issued executive action relating to the “We Can’t Wait” campaign that forgives loans for federal or public workers who have paid their loans consistently for 10 years. Obama also granted tax credits to businesses that hire veterans.

“No matter what obstacles were put in the president’s way, he didn’t let them stop him from getting the job done,” Blake said.

Blake went on to say, “No matter what your background is, no matter who you are, you have a reason to be excited and support President Obama and re-elect him.” To achieve a desired higher voter turnout rate, Operation Vote is coming to the people — on the radio, Internet and college campuses. The program aims to “meet you where you are.” In fact, “when the president was about to do his speech at the [Democratic National] Convention, [they] had a commercial that was on MTV, driving young people to go and watch the speech,” Blake said.

Blake also discussed an initiative that Obama’s campaign team recently launched titled “For All,” which strives to show how “we are all in this together.” More information about this initiative can be found at barackobama.com/for-all. For anyone who needs help registering to vote, there is a Web page (barackobama.com/get-registered) that allows an individual to register online or print out the forms required to register, depending on individual state laws. The site also allows users to check their registration status and invite their friends to register. Though he asserts that voting is critical, Blake urged voters, particularly students, to go further and actively support Obama in ways beyond simply casting a ballot.

“You have a choice on standing up for President Obama, who stood up with you to get you Pell Grants to make your education more affordable. Stand up with President Obama, who got you access to health care, now that 3 million young people have access to [it],” Blake said. Overall, Operation Vote seeks to present Americans with a very clear choice: “Do you want to go forward or backward in this election?”