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In the United States, the concept of redemption, as it applies to voting rights, can be a distant dream for those who have been incarcerated for offenses small or large. One punishment we have enforced is the revocation of voting rights, which often may be restored only by a lengthy and costly legal process.
Background Information: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. Our partner Campus Election Engagement Project prepared the following material for the 2018 election. It includes a description of for/against arguments: Should Florida Restore Felon Voting Rights?
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?
Voting Rights (~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.
- Have you or someone you know had your voting rights revoked? What happened?
- Should people who have “served their time” have their voting rights restored?
- What, if any, are the risks of having felons vote?
- Does the nature of the felony matter? [Felons in Florida (mentioned in the intro) include people that have driven with a suspended license as well as people that have committed murder].
- What redemption, specifically related to voting rights, should we, as a society, allow for people who have been incarcerated and completed their sentence?
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?