To Vote or Not to Vote?
2018 was a record breaking midterm election year with a 50 year high 47.5% of Americans participating. It’s a stark contrast to 2014 with the lowest midterm election voter turnout since WWII. But still half of Americans stayed home. Many people are wondering what kind of turnout 2020 will bring and whether the trend of higher voter turnout will continue. What is it about voting that inspires us to participate or turn away, feeling it’s not worth our effort? Or is there some other reason? In this conversation, we talk about what leads us to vote or not to.
Background Information:One of our partners, Serena Witherspoon, has written a few blogs on the subject of voter engagement. While you don’t need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.
Let's Get Started!
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
What are your thoughts on To Vote or Not to Vote?? (~40 min)
One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.
- Are you registered to vote? What led you to that decision?
- What was your experience in getting registered to vote?
- What are citizens’ voting responsibilities and obligations?
- How important was voting in your family?
- Do you believe our election outcomes would be different with substantially higher voter turnout? How so?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
- What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?