Michelle Obama's funny, star-studded video reminding you to vote is downright delightful.

Whether you're a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or something else entirely, Michelle Obama wants you to get out and vote this November.

That's the message behind the launch of When We All Vote, a nonpartisan group geared toward getting people registered and excited to vote in the 2018 midterms. In the campaign's launch video, former first lady Michelle Obama teams up with Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monáe, Chris Paul, Faith Hill, and Tim McGraw to explain what the program's all about.

The video is funny and cute, but the subject matter is really important.


Lin-Manuel Miranda is not throwing away his chance to make his voice heard this November. Nor, his shot, presumably. GIFs from When We All Vote/YouTube.

Young people are the least likely to cast a ballot in the midterms. They're also the ones who'll be affected the longest by the lasting changes politicians put in place.

A June poll found that 74% of senior citizens are "absolutely certain" to vote in the November midterms. By comparison, that number drops to just 28% when you ask adults between the ages 18 and 29. Yikes! That's not great.

"4 million Americans turn 18 this year. That's huge!" Monáe says in the video. She's right, and if those 4 million all make it out to vote, young people can play an important role in shaping the future.

"Four million Americans turn 18 this year," says Janelle Monae. "That's huge!"

Democracy works best when we all participate in it. Yes, even those we disagree with.

That's what makes it so important that this initiative is nonpartisan. If we want to have a serious conversation about civic engagement, we have to break down the barriers that keep people from taking part in the electoral process. Sure, just 36.7% of eligible voters cast a ballot in the 2014 midterm elections, but beyond disinterest (of which, sadly, there was some), there are a lot of barriers that keep people from participating. That's why it's good to get started on this now. If you work a job where you're not able to step out to vote this November, consider getting an absentee ballot, voting early, or finding another alternative.

"There's no off-season for getting out the vote," says NBA star Chris Paul.

You can watch When We All Vote's launch video below, and learn more about how you can register and help register others at its website.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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