CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty President Barack Obama
Barack Obama shared his personal gratitude on Thursday for some voters who say they had to wait roughly 11 hours in line to cast their ballots this week.
“Nobody should have to wait 11 hours to vote, but we’re all grateful that you—and all those in line with you—stuck it out,” the former president, 59, tweeted. “Keep making your voices heard, everybody.”
“Our democracy depends on it,” he added.
Obama’s thanks came in response to a video that two-time Grammy winning songwriter Johnta Austin tweeted on Monday, showing himself standing in line with other mask-wearing voters who he said waited about 11 hours to cast their ballots.
Austin’s viral tweet received widespread attention, being shared tens of thousands of times this week as many said it showed an example of severe voter suppression. (Some experts say that isn't always the case, particularly on the first day that voting begins when lines can be abnormally long even when voting is usually readily accessible.)
Despite the wait, Austin’s cheerful attitude and determination was seen by many — including Obama — as an inspirational effort to participate in the 2020 elections.
"A long journey but wouldn’t be anywhere else!” Austin captioned his video, taken as he said he was finally next in line. “Please vote everyone!"
Obama is among many fellow lawmakers and celebrities who have amplified calls for voter participation ahead of the Nov. 3 election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
On Tuesday, Obama released 18 separate voter tutorial videos for certain states around the country, which served to provide a guide for how to vote in each state.
“So much is at stake in this election,” Obama said in one of the voting advocacy videos. “From getting the pandemic under control to building a fairer economy to taking on climate change to protecting our health care, you can change our direction on every issue. That’s the power of your vote.”
Cooper Neill for The Washington Post via Getty Voters stand in line before the polling center is opened at Disciple Central Community Church in DeSoto, Texas, on July 14
Obama — along with former First Lady Michelle Obama and a growing list of stars — have recommended Americans “make a plan” on how to vote, which may require minor additional efforts for those choosing to vote by mail amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Obama, who endorsed Biden earlier this year, says in his new voting advocacy campaign that despite national polls showing the former vice president has a double-digit lead over Trump, the election will still likely be “close.”
"It could come down to a handful of voters just like you,” Obama says in one get out the vote video. “So, I'm asking you to bring this thing home. Leave no doubt. Vote early."