Low Voter Turnout

Voter Turnout 1

After some brainstorming, Anna Wilcoxon and I decided to hold a discussion about voter turnout.  This issue is very relevant to the City of Omaha.  Our goal was to convene a meeting to connect citizens and discuss what prevents registered voters from actually casting their votes.  Our purpose would be to identify the conditions that prevent two-thirds of registered voters from voting.  This conversation would lead to a better election process for the City of Omaha.

We invited 28 individuals and groups.  Seven people came to our meeting on the evening of Tuesday, October 29th.  The start was a little rocky.  Anna and I had to repeat our purpose and role a few times to make them clear to our attendees.  Once the conversation began, however, it was very smooth.   The attendees led the discussion a little by asking each other questions.   Anna and I flip charted and interjected our own questions every once in awhile.  We were able to identify barriers citizens encounter regarding the voting process.  A couple of solutions were even thrown out.  The group enjoyed the opportunity to meet and talk.  They are eager to meet again.

Voter Turnout 2Unfortunately, we only heard back from three of the attendees after sending out our thank you notes and follow-up survey.  The three we did hear from claimed they learned something new, met someone new, and would be willing to meet again to discuss this topic.

One unanticipated outcome was the challenge of getting people to attend.  It took more time and effort than expected to get that first positive confirmation.  Having had this experience, I would now approach potential attendees through a different initial method of communication and invite a larger group of people.

It was satisfying to hear attendees express pleasure at meeting people whose names they have seen but whose faces were unfamiliar.   All the attendees seemed genuinely happy to meet representatives of the groups present and genuinely excited about the prospect of collaboration. Everyone was supportive of sharing contact information with one another.

Posted by Michelle Carlson, Facilitator-in-Training

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