Political News

Democrats deploy Barack Obama for video voting guides

Posted October 13, 2020 6:04 a.m. EDT

— Barack Obama is urging Americans in 24 key states to vote in his latest foray into the 2020 election, stressing in new digital videos released by the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday the need for voters to make plans for casting their ballots.

The videos, which feature the former president saying there is "so much at stake in this election," will be used digitally by the Democratic committee, including by statewide campaigns, state parties and other allied progressive groups.

Democrats have turned to their most powerful surrogates to promote voting throughout the election, leaning on Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, along with well-known celebrities, to encourage people to make concrete voting plans amid the coronavirus pandemic. The effort is, in part, a reaction to the 2016 election and Democrats' belief that one reason they lost was a lack of turnout from the party's base.

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"So much is at stake in this election -- from getting the pandemic under control to building a fairer economy to taking on climate change to protecting our health care," Obama says in the video. "History shows that the easiest way to make sure that you and your friends vote is to make a plan. And when it comes to voting this year, having a plan has never been more important."

He adds: "You can change our direction on every issue. That is the power of your vote."

Obama's past involvement in the election has at times angered President Donald Trump, who has remained consumed with his predecessor even nearly four years removed from his final day in office.

The videos give Obama the title of "voting enthusiast," and in each he brings in a Democratic Party official or activist to walk voters in each state through their specific voting rules, including dates that early voting begins and the rules in place for people who vote by mail.

In North Carolina, for example, Brandon Gassaway, the national press secretary of the Democratic committee, walks voters through the steps they need to take.

Many of the states where the ads will be rolled out -- Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin -- are either competitive in the presidential election or have closely watched Senate races.

Democrats, because of the coronavirus and barriers that could accompany in-person voting during a pandemic, have put an intense focus on voting by mail. The party and the Joe Biden campaign have poured millions into voter education and election-related lawsuits to make it easier for people to do so.

The party and Biden's campaign also revamped their IWillVote.com website, so voters are now able to request ballots online or by email, along with prepaid return envelopes to send the ballots in.

In addition to being distributed by state parties, the Democratic National Committee hopes the content will be pushed by a host of online influencers.

The committee has begun to use a distribution network called Greenfly, which puts content like the videos featuring Obama in front of people with large digital audiences and urges them to share the clips. Committee aides have said they saw significant success using the network around the Democratic National Convention this summer.

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