Updated at 12:20 p.m. ET

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Former President Barack Obama is adding his voice to the Democrats' midterm push with an address at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Friday.

"You need to vote because our democracy depends upon it," Obama told students as he accepted an ethics award.

"This moment really is different. The stakes really are higher," the former president said. "The consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire."

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