Rapper Tauheed “2 Chainz” Epps is teaming up with the Hip Hop Caucus as a spokesperson for their 2012 Respect My Vote! campaign.
The Caucus, which leverages hip hop culture to encourage youth to participate in politics, has run the “Respect My Vote!” campaign for two election seasons to register, educate and mobilize young voters between the ages of 18 and 40 years old. The campaign also targets ex-felons and seeks to counter misinformation about their voting rights, which hits particularly close to home for 2 Chainz.
“It meant so much to me when I learned that I had the right to vote, because I’m an ex-felon, who has been blessed with the opportunity to completely turn my life around and become a positive influence to my family and community,” the rapper said in a statement. “It’s very important that once disenfranchised men and women know they can be a part of American democracy again, they have a second chance.”
The Respect My Vote! campaign has compiled the ex-offender voter laws from state to state and points out that “perhaps the biggest voting myth out there is that if you have a felony on your record, you have lost your right to vote forever.” 2 Chainz says he once thought he’d lost his vote, having had a felony record since he was 15 years old, and now he’s on a mission to make sure more of these missing votes are exercised and counted.
“By letting people believe that ex-felons can’t vote, significant numbers of people of color people are kept from the ballot box. This doesn’t just hurt ex-offenders who have paid their debt to society; it also hurts our communities because we are less represented in the political process,” 2 Chainz wrote in an open letter. “As an artist, and, more important, as a man who is blessed with a platform, I want to use my voice to speak on this issue, to educate people, and let this be a signal to others who have made mistakes that they can come back; they will be respected.”
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(Photo: John Ricard / BET)