Does My Vote Really Matter?
A record-breaking 158.4 million ballots were cast in the November 2020 general election. While this is cause for celebration, there is equal cause for concern. Around 35 percent of eligible voters did not participate even in this major election and, if past trends hold, we can expect a dramatic drop in voting in 2021 when municipal elections are held. A stark gap still remains in the voting of different demographic groups, with younger, black and brown people voting at lower rates than white and senior voters. What is it about voting that inspires us to participate or turn away? What makes people question whether their vote matters or decide voting is not worth the effort? In this conversation, we talk about what leads us to choose to vote or to choose not to vote.
Background Information:This guide was created in partnership with the Campus Election Engagement Project.
Let's Get Started!
Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate.
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 are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
What are your thoughts on the question Does My Vote Really Matter? (~40 min)
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. After everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring additional questions as time allows..
- Are you registered to vote? What led you to that decision?
- Did you vote in recent elections? Why or why not? How do you feel about the significance of your vote?
- How important was voting in your family?
- How have you seen election results impact different groups in your community? Do results feel representative of the community in which you live?
- How would elections and communities be affected by substantially higher voter turnout?
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?