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Michelle Obama has added a half-dozen celebrities to her voter participation efforts, including (from left) Shonda Rimes, Kerry Washington and Tracee Ellis Ross.

The stars come out for voting, thanks to Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is stepping up the celebrity power of her effort to promote voting.

The former first lady announced last week that she is adding singer Selena Gomez, actress Liza Koshy, television producer Shonda Rhimes, soccer star Megan Rapinoe, actress Tracee Ellis Ross and actress Kerry Washington as co-chairwomen of When We All Vote.

The national organization was created before the 2018 midterms as a nonpartisan, nonprofit group aiming to increasing voter participation.

Obama is a co-chairwoman, along with composer Lin-Manual Miranda, singer Faith Hill, actor Tom Hanks, actress Rita Wilson, and basketball star Chris Paul. Before the election a year ago, the group organized 2,500 local voter registration events across the country and texted nearly 4 million voters the resources needed to register and vote.

The effort was given some credit for a dramatic reversal in participation. Turnout in 2018 was the highest for a midterm in a century, after 2014 saw the smallest turnout for a midterm since World War II.

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The House on Friday passed legislation to restore a provision of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. The bill would require advance approval of voting changes in states with a history of discrimination. Here President Lyndon Johnson shares one of the pens he used to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Passage of historic voting rights law takes a partisan turn

In a partisan vote on an issue that once was bipartisan, House Democrats pushed through legislation Friday that would restore a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act passed the House 228-187, with all Democrats voting for the bill and all but one Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voting against it.

The bill faces virtually no chance of being considered in the Republican-controlled Senate.

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Big Picture

TV stations fight FCC over political ad disclosure

Broadcasters are pushing back against the Federal Communications Commission after the agency made clear it wants broader public disclosure regarding TV political ads.

With the 2020 election less than a year away and political TV ads running more frequently, the FCC issued a lengthy order to clear up any ambiguities licensees of TV stations had regarding their responsibility to record information about ad content and sponsorship. In response, a dozen broadcasting stations sent a petition to the agency, asking it to consider a more narrow interpretation of the law.

This dispute over disclosure rules for TV ads comes at a time when digital ads are subject to little regulation. Efforts to apply the same rules for TV, radio and print advertising across the internet have been stymied by Congress's partisanship and the Federal Election Commission being effectively out of commission.

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1952 Eisenhower Answers America

On TV, political ads are regulated – but online, anything goes

Lightman is a professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University.

With the 2020 election less than a year away, Facebook is under fire from presidential candidates, lawmakers, civil rights groups and even its own employees to provide more transparency on political ads and potentially stop running them altogether.

Meanwhile, Twitter has announced that it will not allow any political ads on its platform.

Modern-day online ads use sophisticated tools to promote political agendas with a high degree of specificity.

I have closely studied how information propagates through social channels and its impact on political messaging and advertising.

Looking back at the history of mass media and political ads in the national narrative, I think it's important to focus on how TV advertising, which is monitored by the Federal Communications Commission, differs fundamentally with the world of social media.

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