Voting4Us focuses on civic engagement
Hockaday School senior Aarnah Kurella led a mock voting day at T.R. Hoover Community Center in South Dallas.
This came as part of her work as founder of Voting4Us, an organization focused on voter engagement.
The organization’s three pillars: civic engagement, voting education, and bridging people together.
“The overarching purpose is to teach individuals how to think critically and arrive at informed conclusions more independently, but also with the influence of the ideas of everyone else,” Kurella said.
The mock voting day was Sept. 20, when Kurella and other volunteers visited T.R. Hoover and introduced the political process and took volunteers to pretend to run for office. Their peers got to support the campaigns with false money and cast their vote.
“The primary purpose was for children to understand the political process and the importance of civic engagement and extend what they’ve learned onto their older siblings or parents,” Kurella said.
Voting4Us also focuses on educating the population on how to vote, who’s on the ballot, and an overall background before community members cast their votes. Kurella created postcards with voter registration information and details to raise awareness.
Voting4Us also does voter eligibility workshops to ensure voters know how to be prepared for election day.
“People aren’t really exposed to a broad range of ideas because the individuals who usually come door to door only come to endorse one specific candidate, and that kind of really shuts people out from exploring anything else,” Kurella said.
Kurella started Voting4Us in March after being involved in debate at Hockaday and realized her passion for learning through discussion.
“In debate, we talk a lot about how low-income and marginalized communities are often left out of elections, so I thought that in order to solve this, we could probably encourage civic engagement and learning through discussions in these communities,” Kurella said.
Kurella’s involvement with T.R. Hoover sparked as she previously volunteered at the community center and was familiar with its commitment to diversity and elevating the community.
She’s in the process of reaching out to groups such as the League of Women Voters and members of the Hockaday community familiar with voter registration in hopes of making T.R. Hoover a voter registration center.
For now, she plans to keep her focus on the South Dallas community, but in the future, she hopes to expand Voting4Us’ work to other communities that don’t have optimal access to voting.