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2 Arizona mayors embracing Michelle Obama’s voter turnout program

(Getty Images/Scott Olson)

PHOENIX — Two Arizona mayors are taking part in Civic Cities, a program that former first lady Michelle Obama recently launched under her nonpartisan voting initiative.

“Civic Cities is a bipartisan group of mayors rallying around this idea that we want to have a good turnout for our elections,” Mesa Mayor John Giles told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Giles and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego are among the 31 mayors from across the country who are part of the program.

It launched last month under the When We All Vote initiative, which aims to increase participation in elections.

Obama co-chairs the initiative.

Mayors who join Civic Cities commit to increase voter registration and participation in their cities for the November election by taking several steps including mobilizing local leaders in voter engagement efforts to safely register and get out the vote.

Mayors also commit to share successful practices with other mayors.

Participating mayors also receive voter registration data on a regular basis to help set a citywide goal for 2020 and track their progress throughout the program.

“Voting is bigger than any one party, one issue, one candidate or one election,” Obama said in a press release announcing the launch of Civic Cities.

“We’ve got to strengthen our democracy from the bottom up and ensure that more Americans participate in every single election, from the local school board to Congress.”

Giles said the coronavirus pandemic will likely make it difficult to improve voter turnout for the November election. He said some people might hesitate to stand in line at a polling place.

“We need to make sure people are planning ahead, getting registered, doing what they need to be active and participating in the election this year,” he said.

Giles added his goal is to target “communities that historically have underperformed when it comes to registering and getting out to vote.”

That includes Latino voters — who make up about a third of Mesa’s population — and young voters.

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