The Local Democracy Initiative focuses on helping democracy thrive at the local level.

Join the Local Democracy Initiative for a webinar series that will address:

  • Local leadership on free and fair elections
  • Best practices for equitable voter participation
  • Building and maintaining trust in local government
  • Forging lasting partnerships with community-based organizations, and county and state governments

Connect with city and community leaders to gain key insights, share best practices, and access resources to help democracy thrive at the local level.

Upcoming Events

Local Democracy Success Stories

Join the Local Democracy Initiative at 2:00PM (ET) Tuesday, June 13, 2023, for our final webinar of the series to look back at the incredible work of cities, towns, villages and community partners in the past three years.

Through a global pandemic, racial uprisings and unprecedented threats to democracy, local leaders have worked to keep their communities together. We will look at several examples of how municipalities responded to the challenges of the past few years and the lessons learned, and we invite you to share your success stories with us all.

Past events

View recordings for all past events here.

Expanding Equity in the Democratic Process

Original event date May 9, 2023 2:00 PM ET (US and Canada)

Engagement with the democratic process, including voting, attending council meetings, participatory budgeting, and volunteering have proven benefits to communities, including improved mental and physical health and higher degrees of social cohesion. Despite the clear benefits to civic participation, barriers persist that disproportionately impact certain groups.

Join the Local Democracy as we released our newest Municipal Action Guide, “Expanding Equity in the Democratic Process,” which provided recommendations and actionable steps that local leaders can take to increase civic engagement among young, LGBTQ+, Limited English Proficient, and disabled members of the community. This guide is a follow-up to our previous Municipal Action Guide, “Race Equity and Voting in 2021 and Beyond.”

Reducing Community Polarization

Original event date April 11, 2023 2;00 PM ET (US and Canada)

Polarization in the United States has reached historic levels, and both local leaders and members of the communities they serve identify it as one of their biggest concerns. Disdain for members of opposing political parties, inflammatory material on social media, and the politicization of just about everything has led to a crisis point—but there are ways to bridge the divide. Watch NLC’s Reducing Community Polarization webinar where experts discussed building bridges across political divides.

Panelists included Ryan Nakade, a mediator with Cure PDX; Rachel Weinstein of Braver Angels, and Rich Tafel, co-founder of the American Project at Pepperdine School of Public Policy.

Updates on Census Data, Surveys, and the Road to 2030

Original event date February 14, 2023 2:00 PM ET (US and Canada)

After the intensity of the 2020 Decennial Census count, the Census may no longer be top of mind for everyone. However, the Census Bureau continues to launch new surveys and release new data, while experts and stakeholders debate questions around data privacy, accuracy, and the best ways to capture the characteristics of our nation’s people.

The Updates on Census Data, Surveys, and the Road to 2030 webinar featured Census Expert and Consultant Terri Ann Lowenthal, Executive Director of the Arab American Institute Maya Berry, and Deputy Director and LGBTQ Program Director for the Movement Advancement Project Naomi Goldberg. These three experts discussed a range of issues, including the 2030 Decennial Census timeline, updating OMB’s race and ethnicity standards and improving federal data collection for LGBTQI+ equity.

MDM 101: Understanding Mis-, Dis-, and Malinformation

Original event date December 13, 2022 2:00 PM ET (US and Canada)

Mis-, dis-, and malinformation (MDM) represent a major challenge to local leaders and their ability to serve their residents. As the most trusted level of government, officials in cities and towns are well-positioned to respond to the rise of falsehoods, rumors, and myths that circulate online and in person.

Join the Local Democracy Initiative on Tuesday, December 13 at 2:00PM ET for the first of a two-part series on mis-, dis-, and malinformation. To understand this growing problem, we will delve into how MDM starts and spreads, the reasons people buy into it and promote it, and the impact it has on communities.

The second installment of the series will take place in January and will discuss ways to prevent and respond to mis-, dis-, and malinformation.

Native Voters and Native Voices in Local Government

Original event date October 11, 2022 2:00-3:00 PM EST (US and Canada)

Native Americans were denied citizenship and the right to vote until 1924, and even after the passage of federal legislation, it took decades for some states to comply. Today, Native voters still face obstacles to inclusion in the democratic process including access to the ballot, representation in local government, and full participation in civic life.

Join the Local Democracy Initiative on October 11 at 2:00PM EST to discuss the unique barriers facing Native voters and ways that local leaders can work with Indigenous communities to ensure that their voices are included in local decision-making.

Language and Disability Access at the Polls

Original event date August 9, 2022 2:00 PM 3:00 PM ET (US and Canada)

Federal law sets requirements for states and localities to comply with protections for language minorities and people with disabilities. Join the Local Democracy Initiative to discuss how localities can make the registration and voting experience more accessible for people with disabilities and limited or no English proficiency.

During the session, participants will hear from Michelle Bishop of the National Disability Rights Network, Terry Ao Minnis of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Angel Ponce of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities in the City of Houston.

Confronting Threats and Harassment Against Local Election Officials

Original event date July 12, 2022 at 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Local election officials are on the front lines of our nation’s democracy, seeking to serve the public good and our communities. In recent years, what was once a seemingly apolitical role has been subjected to pressure by those that would seek to undermine the democratic process. This overt politicization has been detrimental not only to democracy, but to the people who are seeking to support our institutions, our history, and the sacred right to vote.

Ensuring LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Local Democracy

Original event date: June 1, 2022 at 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Following a leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion, there is renewed attention to the right to privacy foundational to many LGBTQ+ rights. At the same time, we’ve seen significant increases in the number of LGBTQ+ officials serving in local, state and national offices, many of whom will be on the ballot in 2022.

Join us on June 1 at 2:00pm ET as we celebrate the start of Pride Month by discussing the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusion in local democracy, special considerations for ensuring that LGBTQ+ voters are able to cast their ballots and how local leaders can create space for queer voices on local issues.

Common Ground and Creative Spaces for Civil Dialogue

Original event date: May 4, 2022 at 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

Amid high tensions around political issues and local initiatives, it often seems as though common ground is a thing of the past. But what unites residents is stronger than what divides them — we just need to find new ways to tap into that common ground. Discussed in this webinar is how, in a politically charged environment, it’s still possible to carve out space for dialogue through what links many people.

Library Outreach Day: Libraries as Essential Civic Spaces

Original event date: April 2, 2022 at 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

n April, NLC and experts from the American Library Association, Libraries as Bridges and the Kansas City Public Library celebrated Library Outreach Day by focusing on the essential role that libraries play in civic life. From ballot dropboxes and voter registration sites to venues for community dialogue, libraries sustain local democracy by bringing together residents of all ages, races, economic levels and partisan affiliations.

Confronting Voter Suppression: The Legacy and Future of the Voting Rights Act

Original event date: February 2, 2022 at 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

The Local Democracy Initiative marked Black History Month by looking at the history of voting rights and voter suppression in the United States. Discussed in this video is how local officials can talk openly and authentically about difficult subjects and the necessity of acknowledging historic trauma with respect to the vote. Also reviewed is the state of voting rights today and what local leaders can do to continue the critical work of leaders like John Lewis, Hosea Williams and Amelia Boynton. 

Combatting Disinformation and Rebuilding Trust in Local Government

Original event date: January 5, 2022 at 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

The Local Democracy Initiative discussed in this webinar the threat that mis- and disinformation poses to democratic principles. One year after an unprecedented attack on democracy, we convened to discuss the enormous challenges facing local leaders, how to start reestablishing trust with residents, and what we can do to encourage transparency and accountability.