Nelson Mandela once said that education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world and U.S. Rep. John Lewis once said that the vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have.
Orange County, California Registrar of Voters Neal Kelly is combining education and voting to create powerful nonviolent weapons in the form of informed voters through the county’s Election Academy.
The Election Academy is a six-course program that began in 2010 as an effort to expand the “superficial” knowledge that many, although well intentioned, candidates, campaigns and consultants have about elections are actually run.
“But, what we learned along the way was that there was also a strong desire among voters to gain a deeper understanding of the process — hence not only the birth, but the expansion of our Academy,” Kelley said.
To-date nearly 240 Orange County residents have participated in the Academy. Kelley said the residents taking the class is a real mix of people. He estimated that the average class is made up of 25 percent candidates and/or elected officials, 20 percent city, school district, special district employees, 10 percent students (college age) and 45 percent voters and interested members of the public.