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YouTube star Tyler Oakley visits UNC to encourage early voting

Tyler Oakley visit
UNC students gather behind Tyler Oakley as he takes a video inspiring young eligible voters to participate in the early election.

Addressing a crowd of hundreds on the UNC quad on Friday, YouTube personality Tyler Oakley stressed the importance of early voting and the power of each vote — especially in a swing state like North Carolina. 

"I'm sure you all know, probably more than I do, that there are people here that might not agree with you," he said. "And they are very eager to vote — just as eager as I hope you are." 

He said North Carolina's early voting process makes it unique.  

"And, the cool thing about North Carolina is you can go to vote, and register right there, early, as you're voting," he said. "So like, if you're not quite prepared, you can still bounce in and be like 'I'm here for Hillary,' or alternative — but not really." 

Lady Gaga's new album, "Joanne," was also on Oakley's mind as he encouraged the audience to vote. 

"It's so good — it's the perfect soundtrack for voting," he said. 

Oakley said young people should embrace voting as a chance to have their voices heard and express their political opinions.

"If your friend is like, 'Ah, the polls are showing this thing, I don't need to go,' it's not how polls work. You really actually need to go so the polls are true when it actually happens," he said. 

Neil Davis, a UNC student and volunteer at the event, said he hoped the event would bring more attention to the election and early voting by having a relatable figure talk to students. 

"(We wanted to) show someone who people can relate to and show his beliefs and why he would want to vote for Hillary based on Tyler's background and perspective on issues," Davis said.

Ryan Alderman, a UNC student who attended the event, said he was excited for the opportunity to meet the YouTube star. 

"(Oakley's visit) just reminded me I needed to go vote," he said. 

Oakley's visit to campus was his second campaign appearance in North Carolina this week. He appeared alongside Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and First lady Michelle Obama Thursday at an event in Greensboro. 

Obama shared with Oakley a story of how close the North Carolina results of the 2008 election were when President Barak Obama was running for election. 

"Your state was so close that when they looked at the numbers, it came down to if two people that were going to vote for Obama did not show up to each precinct in North Carolina, Obama wouldn't have gotten North Carolina," Oakley said. 

He said each vote matters and can influence the election's outcome. 

"When you think about each of those people, if those two people per precinct didn't show up, we might have had a very different reality in our country," Oakley said. 

Oakley said he also wanted to remind students that local elections are important and can have significant effects on their lives.

"Local elections change communities, and I have family in N.C., I have a nephew in North Carolina," he said. "I want North Carolina to be a safe place for him however he turns out to be." 


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