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First Lady Michelle Obama visits campus, highlights youth vote

First Lady Michelle Obama visits campus, highlights youth vote

On Thursday, students, citizens, and elected officials alike all rallied together as Mark Udall’s campaign made a stop on campus. An array of speakers from the state and federal government, featuring the First Lady, discussed the importance of this year’s election in Colorado. The stage started firing up with a female empowering speech by Fort Collins’ own Betsy Markey, (D) running for the Colorado State Treasurer. Markey spoke about the importance of women candidates and voters as active participants in this election, as Markey is the only woman democratic candidate for state office. Markey emphasized the importance of women’s rights in this election as Amendment 67, defining personhood, was highlighted, as well as Mark Udall’s consistent opposition to A67 with his liberal values and his senatorial voting record.

The stage then turned to Congressmen Jared Polis. He stressed how the Udall/Gardner campaign was extremely important for every individual to vote in as it could result in the Senate switching to Republican or staying Democratic. This swing of control is crucial to how successful the Obama administration’s last 2 years in office will go. “This is an election of values”, Polis said, as he talked about the importance of every individual’s vote, talking about Colorado’s new mail in ballot law. The new law had made sure every Colorado registered voter received a mail-in ballot three weeks before the election, in which voters can return by mail or at designated 24-hour ballot drop boxes. Also, the law allows any unregistered voter on election day, the ability to register and vote in that same day. This is considered an “X” factor in the election, as this is the first year of implementation. Guessing the impact of the new mail-in ballot law, a hot topic at the rally, will have on the election is difficult, as well as how many more voters this will bring in to the election.

Senator Michael Bennett, former superintendent of Denver schools, took the stage after Polis. Senator Bennett said that, “election day is today, and all the way to election day” due to the new mail-in ballot law.

Governor Hickenlooper, talked at the rally, as he is up for re election this year as well. The Governor discussed Colorado’s economic growth, going from fortieth in job creation to fourth since he’s been in office, and has been the number one fastest growing economy in America. Governor Hickenloper also discussed the successful implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act, as Colorado was one of the top states to add people without health insurance to the ACA. The Governor also talked about the importance of providing women with the private healthcare options he believes they deserves, and discussed how Colorado has provided contraception pills to females and therefore helped reduce teenage pregnancy by 40% in Colorado.

Senator Mark Udall took the stage after the crowd rallied from Governor Hickenlooper’s speech, and discussed how close the Senate race was. “The race comes down to the last ballot,” said Hickenlooper, again touching on the frequently talked about mail-in ballot law. Senator Udall outlined his work in the Senate already, as well as talking about “being committed to moving the state forward by raising the minimum wage, respecting women’s reproductive freedoms, equal pay equal work, responding to the environmental concerns of climate change, marriage equality, and college affordability.” Senator Udall rallied the crowd and spoke directly to the students about the importance of every youth vote.

Following Senator Udall’s speech, First Lady Michelle Obama took the stage with a roaring response, advocating the re-election of Governor Hickenlooper , Congressmen Polis and Senator Udall, highlighting Udall’s ability to work as a Senator who can compromise and step over party lines. The First Lady discussed the importance of the youth vote, even though many young people believe their individual vote doesn’t matter. The First Lady elegantly described how each and every vote matters, flashing back to the 2008 presidential election. The First Lady discussed her husband’s 2008 presidential campaign, and how the overwhelming support of young voters helped President Obama win the election and help fix the recession the country was experiencing when Obama took office. The First Lady went back to the popular youth comment that elections don’t matter and showed the success of Obamas term as a reason why elections matter. Mrs. Obama said supporting Governor Hickenlooper and Senator Udall represent “opportunities to vote for leaders who share your values.” Obama also stressed the importance of each and every vote and the accessibility the new mail-in ballot law has to citizens. She asks college students to “check it off their list,” and bring “fraternity and sorority members, as well as that cute girl you met at that party last weekend, or for parents in the room, you met them at the library.” Adding a sense of humor, the First Lady directly spoke to the importance of student votes in this election, as it is our future we are voting on. A theme transcending through all speakers was the importance of every vote in a close election and the strong effect the mail-in ballot law plays in acquiring each and every vote. As the election comes up in a week and a half, it is important for us students to remember that our vote and voice counts, and we are a very large demographic politicians must keep in mind.

Michael Nickels

October 24th, 2014

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