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Team Lansing: “It’s a real personal thing”

Edwina and her husband James, who lead Team Lansing together, sat down to talk about what drives their team to be out registering voters week after week—and why they’ll be out for the next weekend of action.

James: When [our team] first started, I said, ‘For each member on the team, we want to have five one-on-one meetings to recruit other supporters.’ Let me tell you—they looked at me like I was crazy. But we ended up being champions for the number of one-on-ones in our area. And we did the same thing with phonebanking, and we even exceeded our goals so we helped out other teams with their goals. Now our team is pumped up, and we’ve got that teamwork mentality, and we’re going to get out there and do voter registration.

Edwina: By being out there [registering voters], whether we’re at the church or at the barbershop or wherever, the community knows us and trusts us. We’d say, ‘Don’t just bring yourself; you go and get the rest of your family, and we’ll teach them about their voting rights.’ Then, they would bring their cousins and their friends.

James: It’s a real personal thing; just a really gratifying thing. It’s about building those relationships.

Edwina: In this area, high school graduates celebrate by having open houses, where they invite all their friends and the whole neighborhood. So what we’re going to do this May and June is talk to the parents and give them a clipboard with a laminated sample of the voter registration form. If you take one of the packets to an open house, and get someone there who’s familiar with those kids, you’ll register all of those kids. It makes it easy for them. They get what registering to vote is and why it matters—it’s just a matter of showing them how to do it.

While the South Lansing team is out in their community, they’re not only registering voters—they’re also encouraging other supporters to get involved.

Edwina: We went over to the University of Michigan to talk to some of the student groups affiliated with the black alumni organization. And my husband talked to [the students] about getting involved—and they just didn’t know they could get involved like that! They all said, “We can do this? We want to do voter reg!” You know, with a lot of these kids, there’s so much frustration in their lives, it’s tough. But by giving them this information, you’re showing them that they’re valuable: that they can do something in their community.

If you’re ready to register voters in your community, sign up now for a weekend of action event coming up this Saturday and Sunday.

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