Former First Lady Michelle Obama held a ‘couch party’ along with Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson on Monday night in an event designed to encourage people to sign up for mail-in voting.
When We All Vote is a nonpartisan group whose mission is to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting.
The group was launched in 2018 by co-chairs Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monae, Chris Paul, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.
Michelle Obama hosted an online event on behalf of When We All Vote – a non-profit, nonpartisan organization hoping to increase participation in election
On Monday night Michelle Obama spoke to Hanks and Wilson on the telephone as part of a ‘voter registration’ event.
‘Voting should never, ever be difficult and it should never be a partisan issue,’ Mrs Obama said as she referred to the recent Wisconsin primary that took place despite social distancing restrictions because of the coronavirus outbreak.
‘This pandemic, this crisis that we’re facing is proving that measures like vote by mail, early, in-person voting and online voter registration are not only long overdue, they are essential for the future of this democracy,’ the the former first lady said.
Obama earlier tweeted ‘no American should ever have to make the choice between making their voice heard and keeping themselves and their family safe.’
The virtual parties began in late March and often include celebrity endorsement. On Monday night, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson took part in the livestream broadcast
During the evening’s ‘When We All Vote #CouchParty’ Obama emphasized the importance of vote-by-mail being accessible to all voters and said that was exactly how she and husband Barack had voted for ‘every election for the last decade.’
After the phonecall, Hanks and Wilson held a discussion stressing the importance of having every voter’s voice heard during the democratic process.
‘We as Americans and as voters should be able to request the options that work for us,’ Wilson said. ‘We don’t want to have to risk our health or our vote. So to make that easy, mail-in ballot, absentee ballot, I think that’s a really great compromise.’
The Oscar-winning actor then thanked essential workers during the current public health crisis.
The When We All Vote organization aims to increase voting participation through registration and raising awareness about voting access, including voting by mail
Only five states have all-mail elections while in 15 others an ‘excuse’ must be provided to vote by mail. In the remaining 30 states, an absentee ballot can be requested for any reason
‘We can wash our hands, we can responsibly social distance, we can wear the masks,’ Hanks said. ‘We can do these things. Some of it is literally the least we can do. But the most we can do is give some props and some credit to all those people who are out there: first responders, delivery people, shelve stockers, food folks. Everybody that’s working on food banks all around the country in order to keep us all moving.’
‘In November, we need to have every voice heard,’ Wilson said. ‘It’s important.’
‘As Michelle once said, democracy moved forward, man. It’s always on the march,’ Hanks added. ‘And that means we gotta join the parade.’
Former first lady Michelle Obama is seen participating in the ‘When We All Vote Rally’ at Watsco Center at the University of Miami in September 2018 in Coral Gables, Florida
Last week, Michelle Obama announced an initiative being fronted by the group that would see legislation introduced to increase vote-by-mail options, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic which has forced people to remain away from public places and kept indoors.
‘We know that barriers to voting existed before this crisis, especially for young people and communities of color,’ Obama said in a statement. ‘Expanding access to vote-by-mail, online voter registration and early voting are critical steps for this moment — and they’re long overdue.’
‘There is nothing partisan about striving to live up to the promise of our country; making the democracy we all cherish more accessible; and protecting our neighbors, friends and loved ones as they participate in this cornerstone of American life,’ said the former first lady.
Hanks and Wilson told of their firsthand experience with coronavirus during a radio interview this weekend
Hanks and Wilson told of their firsthand experience with coronavirus during a radio interview this weekend.
The 63-year-old father-of-four ‘had some body aches and was very fatigued’ to the point that he ‘wiped’ out 12 minutes into a 30-minute basic work-out.
‘I just tried to do basic stretches and exercises on the floor and I couldn’t even get halfway through,’ Tom recalled.
When a nurse checked on Hanks inside his air-pressurized isolated room, ‘She looked at me through her glasses like she was talking to the dumbest human being. And she said, ‘You have COVID-19.’
Hanks said his wife suffered far worse from 102F fevers, chills, as well as nausea.
‘She was so nauseous, she had to crawl on the floor from the bed to the facilities. It lasted a while,’ Tom explained.
‘Rita went through a tougher time than I did. She had a much-higher fever and she had some other symptoms. She lost her sense of taste and smell. She got absolutely no joy from food for a better part of three weeks.’