On Thursday, Nov. 3, student representatives from the University of Maine UVote and Democracy Dinners joined in the Memorial Union to provide information on both voter registration and how to hold an open and honest political discussion.
The event was hosted by first-year student Madeline Howorth, a student liaison for Democracy Dinners and research fellow for the nonprofit Global Partnership for Civic Engagement, and third-year Tia Blejeru, the UVote ambassador for UMaine. The event provided a space for students to learn more about facilitating open and honest conversations with family and friends and ask questions about the voting process.
According to Howorth, this tabling event is meant to inform possible participants about what a Democracy Dinner entails.
“For hosting a Democracy Dinner, you’re basically inviting your friends, family and connections to talk about politics in a non-confrontational manner. [Democracy Dinners] is apolitical and nonpartisan, so we’re more about facilitating communication and conflict resolution rather than pushing agendas of any particular kind. The only agenda we have is pro-democracy,” Howorth said.
With the current political division among voters, Howorth highlights that now is the time for movements like this to start conversations about the democratic process and making your voice heard.
“I think we’re the first Democracy Dinner effort in Maine right now,” Howorth said.
They added that the program usually targets key swing districts. Maine, with four electoral votes, is usually seen as a swing state.
As we near the midterm election season many UMaine students are getting ready to vote for the first time. The event attracted dozens of students from different majors and political affiliations and Howorth and Blejeru were able to answer several questions and gather supporters for Democracy Dinner efforts.
“I feel really passionate about voting and getting young people out to vote,” Blejeru said.
The group’s focus is on college students who may be voting for the first time while bringing awareness and attention to the election this Tuesday.
“I hope to see people out at the polls on Tuesday,” said Blejeru. “Make your voice heard, especially for others who may not be able to do that. It’s really important to stand up for not only what you believe in, but making sure everyone is represented in our government.”
Questions about holding a Democracy Dinner can be directed to Madeline Howorth at firstname.lastname@example.org, while civic engagement questions can be asked to Howorth or Blejeru at email@example.com.