The importance of voting was made clear at first lady Michelle Obama’s visit to Tallahassee.
Although she touched on other subjects like student debt and health care reform, Obama hinged a large portion of her speech on voting and the difference that just one vote can have.
“Everything is at stake this November,” she said. “It all comes down to a few key battle ground states like Florida.” She mentioned that in 2008, President Barack Obama only won Florida by 236,000 votes.
“That might sound like a lot,” Obama said, mentioning the total breaks down to “just 36 votes per precinct. You better get that number in your head.”
Obama expressed that every vote matters and told anyone who thought otherwise to think about the impact just 36 votes can have on an election.
“Everyone in here could end this election. If we win in the precincts, we will in the state,” she said, followed by chants of “four more years” from the crowd.
She aimed the majority of her voting speech at the high number of college students from Florida A&M University, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College.
“From now until Nov. 6, we’re going to need all of you to work like you’ve never worked before, especially our young people. More importantly, make sure you’re registered to vote.”
FAMU Electoral Commissioner Jalisa Brown said she could feel Obama’s speech.
“It really means a lot to me. Encouraging students to register to vote,” Brown said. “It’s like she was talking to me personally and she was saying, ‘Jalisa, what are you going to do to really get students aware of the importance of voting?’ Not just on a national scale, but when you talk about state and local it’s important to vote in those elections as well.”
Brown said the electoral commission is active on campus registering students to vote during Set Fridays and other events.
“Whenever there is an opportunity to speak to students, and it does have to be a big crowd, we’re always there trying to get students registered,” Brown said, adding that the Board of Trustees is considering recessing classes to allow students the chance to register or make it to the polls on election day.
Jasmine Lowe, a senior molecular cell biology student from Ft. Lauderdale, said she was excited to see the first lady because she’s an inspirational speaker.
“There’s a reason for you to vote,” said Lowe. “Don’t let your voice go unheard.”
Lowe, who was soaking wet from the downpour just before the event, said she wasn’t deterred by the weather.
“I would have been out there if there was a hurricane,” she said.
Students realize the importance of voting and the struggle those before them endured for the right of suffrage.
“It’s important for me to be able to vote because this is what my ancestors fought for,” said Shacahri Parks, a senior elementary education student. “I’m just so proud to be an American.”
Obama encouraged those who work on enrolling voters to continue, but also gave advice on adapting to the state of the union that may not always be on solid ground.
“Working and struggling and pushing forward… is how change always happens in this country,” she said.
Brown said a mock debate is in the works based on the platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties. A debate watch party is also being planned for Oct. 3 in the Grand Ballroom.