To Vote or Not to Vote?
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Suggested length: 45 minutes
American citizens achieve the right to vote at age 18. Many Americans, however, don't register to vote, and many registered voters choose not to cast ballots during elections. Furthermore, younger voters (i.e. voters under age 30) tend to vote at much lower rates than older age groups. What is it about voting that inspires younger and older people to vote -- or discourages them from voting -- in local, state, and federal elections? In this conversation, you and other participants will explore questions around voting, the forces that encourage or discourage voting, and our responsibilities as citizens in a democracy. By practicing the conversation agreements and sticking to the three-round structure, you’ll learn more about how you and your peers think about whether “to vote or not to vote” among those who are eligible to do so.
Question Round 1: Get to know each other
Suggested length: 15 minutes
Get to know each other a bit by sharing something personal. Each participant should answer one or more of the following questions:
- How would you describe your town? (e.g. urban, rural, crowded, empty, big, small ...)
- How would you describe your school? (e.g. big, small, public, private, easy, fun, competitive, stressful ...)
- What are your favorite activities or hobbies outside of school?
- What do you want to do after you graduate?
- How would your best friends describe you?
Question Round 2: Listen and share to understand
Suggested length: 20 minutes
Share your views -- and listen openly to others' views -- on the assigned topic, without debating or trying to change anyone's opinion. Each participant should answer one or more of the following questions:
- [If you are under 18] Do you plan to register and vote when you reach voting age? Why or why not?
- [If you are 18 or older] Are you already registered to vote? What led you to that decision?
- [If you are 18 or older] What was the experience like when you registered to vote? Easy? Hard?
- What are American citizens’ voting responsibilities and obligations?
- Do you believe that an individual’s vote counts, does it make a difference?
- How important is voting in your family? Do your parents vote? Do older siblings?
- Do you believe our election outcomes would be different with higher voter turnout? How so?
Question Round 3: Reflect and share takeaways
Suggested length: 10 minutes
Reflect on -- and share with other participants -- how it felt to join a Mismatch conversation. Each participant should answer one or more of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most valuable to you in this conversation.
- What new learning or appreciation do you have after joining this conversation?
- Have you found common ground or areas of interest that surprised you?
- What is one important thing you thought was accomplished here?
Before starting a conversation, all participants must agree to these conversation agreements.
1. Be Curious and Open to Learning.
Listen to and be open to hearing all points of view. Maintain an attitude of exploration and learning. Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking.
2. Look for Common Ground and Appreciate Differences.
In this conversation, we look for what we agree on and simply appreciate that we will disagree on some beliefs and opinions.
3. Be Purposeful and to the Point.
Notice if what you are conveying is or is not “on purpose” to the question at hand. Notice if you are making the same point more than once.
4. Show Respect and Suspend Judgment
Human beings tend to judge one another, do your best not to. Setting judgments aside will better enable you to learn from others and help them feel respected and appreciated.
5. Be Authentic and Welcome that from Others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak authentically from your personal and heartfelt experience. Be considerate to others who are doing the same.
6. Own and Guide the Conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation by noticing what’s happening and actively support getting yourself and others back “on purpose” when needed.