On October 24th, in Lansing, Voters Ed Fund hosted a Democracy Academy workshop that kindled a passion for civic engagement in our attendees. We asked Sheila Moore, an inspiring local democracy advocate who played a pivotal role in facilitating the event, about her experience helping launch Democracy Academy in Lansing.
About the event: Democracy begins at the local level, but many voters are not making their voices heard. Local elections in the odd years barely reach more than 20% voter participation. Democracy Academy’s first class, “Making the Case for GOTV in Local Elections,” seeks to increase voter participation at the local level. The classroom-style workshop focuses on 4 key topics: how our current system encourages low turnout at the local level, the consequences of low voter participation, our recommended techniques to create positive change, and how to encourage others to make local elections a priority.
About Sheila: Sheila Moore is an integral member of our volunteer team who helped make the Lansing workshop successful. She informed the class curriculum, performed extensive research to custom-tailor the class, and conducted exhaustive outreach efforts throughout the Lansing area to recruit attendees. We asked her a few questions about her experience helping launch Democracy Academy in Lansing.
What inspired you to volunteer for the Democracy Academy workshop in Lansing? “I wanted to be a part of civic education. Voter registration is essential, however, voter education is vital to elevate voter participation by emphasizing why voting matters.”
What advice or encouragement would you offer to someone considering volunteering for a similar event in the future? “They should jump in and learn about Voters Not Politicians overall and then determine where they would like to target their efforts. There are many ways to get involved.”
Can you share your most memorable moment from the event? “When the participants were made aware of the ballot proposal to amend the Lansing City Charter. I felt it was a light bulb-shining experience because little has been said about it.“
What professional skills or life experiences do you feel served you well in volunteering for this event? “In my career as a researcher with the state legislature, I would be involved in conducting new member orientations where we helped newly elected legislators understand the services we provide and helped them to navigate the landscape of state government and the legislative process. That experience helped me to explain to members how staff services can help them to serve their constituents and to develop policy.”
Do you plan to volunteer with VNP in the future? “I plan to continue to be involved in Voters Not Politicians, Democracy Academy, and the work we plan to do for the 2024 election.”
Would you like to share special thanks or shout-outs to individuals or teams you worked with during the event? “Working with VNP staff Charlie Beall and Alyson Grigsby, and volunteer Verlecia Kelley has been such an enriching experience. Being around people who have a shared passion to empower voters and to strengthen democracy is the fulfillment of something I’ve wanted to be a part of for a long time.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? “Our votes matter. The true power is in the collective participation of voters. If that were not true, there wouldn’t be such a battle to keep it!”