Keke Palmer was overjoyed at the chance to vote for the first time in 2012.
The Scream Queens
star was psyched about the prospect of re-electing President Barack Obama, a leader she calls "a great man." And she was "just so happy to see such a big change as a Black man being president."
But Palmer, now 22, says she's since realized that the excitement she felt in some ways overshadowed the bigger picture of voting in America.
"I didn’t really understand voting in its totality," she said. "I didn’t understand Congress, I didn’t understand senators. We have to pay attention just as much to that as we do the presidential election, so that our president has an opportunity to get the kind of laws they want passed."
According to U.S. Census Bureau information
, 71% of citizens are registered to vote, but only 61% of citizens actually cast a ballot in the last presidential election. When it comes to midterm elections, the numbers are lower. Only 41.9% of American citizens turned out in 2014
Changing that is something Palmer is passionate about. She’s the newest celebrity spokesperson for the Respect My Vote campaign
, a non-partisan effort organized by Hip Hop Caucus to make voting more accessible and culturally established. The group primarily works with minority communities, people with criminal records, and students.
Palmer told Refinery29 that she became involved with the campaign because she wants more young people to be a part of the political process.