Baracking the early vote

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Usher and Hill Harper led a group of young voters to the polls Tuesday afternoon. The two stars were the headliners for a Barack Obama early voting rally held at the Grady Cole Center.

Harper joked that he loves Charlotte so much that he’s going to lobby CBS to change his show to “CSI: Charlotte.”

Dressed in a black "Barack the Vote" T-shirt and jeans, Harper said that Obama needs young people to vote and follow their hearts. "For the next six days I'm asking you to grab 10 to 15 people and get them to vote," he told the crowd.

Usher, who was only on stage for a few minutes, led the charge for the voters in the mostly college-aged audience to go across the street and vote.

“I’ve never been this engaged ever,” Harper said backstage. “But this has been a 21-month journey. We’ve been working hard going state to state. But North Carolina is special because there is the one stop voting. It is a wonderful opportunity to tell people you can show up, register and vote. The whole country should be like North Carolina.”

Harper said that people want to feel as if they matter and this election is a chance for people to gain that feeling.

For R&B singer Usher, taking time off from preparing for his tour to urge people to vote for Sen. Barack Obama seemed like a no brainer. The singer said when he was younger, he worked with his mother, Jonnetta Patton, when she was out campaigning for local politicians.

“She couldn’t find a babysitter so I went out campaigning with her. What it did was show me that by utilizing my voice and having some sort of civic action that I’m taking control in my community and it could make a difference,” he said.

North Carolina has the potential to make a difference in the outcome of the presidential election. For the first time since 1976, North Carolina could be a blue state. The last Democratic presidential nominee to carry the Tar Heel state was Jimmy Carter.

According to an article from the Ecomomist.com:

[North Carolina] is a culturally conservative southern state that has voted for the Republican in every presidential election since 1976. In 2004 George Bush clobbered John Kerry here by a 12-point margin, even though Mr. Kerry’s running mate, John Edwards, was North Carolina’s senator at the time.

Early voting in North Carolina ends on Nov. 1.

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