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Obama, in Chapel Hill: 'Your Vote Matters'

News & Observer of Raleigh
President Barack Obama in Chapel Hill 11/2/16

With early voting wrapping up on Saturday in North Carolina, both presidential campaigns are targeting the state in a big way.  Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be in the state today:  Donald Trump for rallies in Concord and Selma.  Hillary Clinton in Raleigh.  But the edge goes to Clinton in terms of big-name surrogates.  She’ll be joined onstage today by Senator Bernie Sanders.  Chelsea Clinton is scheduled for a get out the vote rally in Asheville on Saturday.  And yesterday, President Barack Obama tried to push Democrats to the polls in Chapel Hill, acknowledging some of the challenges, maybe the first one being election fatigue.    

“I know that at the end of a campaign, you must be tired of TV commercials.  There are so many negative ads.  And there is so much noise.  And there’s so many distractions.  And every day is just hysteria and over-the-top coverage.  And at a certain point, there’s a temptation to wanna just tune it out.  You kinda feel overdosed.  Even those of us in politics sometimes feel like, I’ve had enough politics.  I understand the feeling I promise you.”

But Obama said now is the time to get energized.  The campaign has struggled with a lack of enthusiasm with black and young voters.  Turnout among early voters in the black community is down from where it was at this point 4 years ago, giving Democrats cause for concern.  Obama tried to remind voters, especially young voters, of the stakes, with a bit of a history lesson.

“It wasn’t that long ago that folks were beaten trying to register voters in Mississippi.  It wasn’t that long ago that a man named Henry Frye in Greensboro, the first African-American Chief Justice of North Carolina’s Supreme Court was denied the right to register to vote, because he had failed a literacy test after he had graduated from college.  It was not that long ago!”

Now, Obama says, voting rights are under attack again.  He talked about a legal challenge just this week filed by the state NAACP over blacks being purged from voter rolls.  And he also talked about the 2013 law passed by Republicans that required voter ID and cut back on early voting.

“The law was struck down.  Your rights have been restored.  Right now, there are more one-stop early vote sites in North Carolina than ever before.  You can register and vote at any site in your county, as long as you do it by Saturday.  It’s easier to vote than ever in North Carolina.  But if you don’t vote, then you’ve done the work of those who would suppress your vote without them having to lift a finger.  Come on!”

Whether that message gets through to voters or not could be the deciding factor in North Carolina.  And North Carolina, could be the state that decides the entire election.


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