LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Michelle Obama urged Americans on Monday not to tune out of the gridlocked political system and said voting - and enlisting millions of new voters - is a pathway to change in a deeply polarized nation.
"Protecting and expanding our democracy is the best and only path out of this mess," the former first lady said during her keynote address at the Los Angeles summit of a national voting organization she helped create.
When We All Vote's inaugural Culture of Democracy Summit brought in people from business, technology, entertainment and sports. The event was held at Banc of California Stadium in Exposition Park.
"Our democracy is fading," Obama said, citing what she described as abusive gerrymandering practices and a new wave of voting restrictions in states that could suppress voting.
"Sometimes it's just easier to look away," Obama said, referring to domestic conflicts and controversies, including disinformation on social media, pervasive gun violence and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
"No one has the luxury to sit out or stay at home just because you're not feeling excited enough," she said. "If you don't vote, other people will."
Those in attendance came from all over the country. They're interested in getting people to vote across ages and races, and against misinformation.
"As we approach the midterm election, as well as the mayoral election in Los Angeles, it's important now more than ever that we continue to be engaged," one attendee told Eyewitness News.
When We All Vote is not affiliated with a political party, and Obama did not talk about any particular side of the aisle.
She tasked people to understand every race.
"It is important to know your judges and your justices because they can determine the kind of justice you get," she said to the audience.
Organizers said it was Obama's first, in-person appearance before a larger audience since the start of the pandemic. She last addressed When We All Vote in person in 2018 before the midterm elections.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.