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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fewer chickens, more listening

Letter to the Editor

Your concern about the state of campaigning is right on (“The senator and the GOP chicken” Aug. 30). We agree that the opportunity for voters to look candidates in the eye and have a civil and substantive exchange has been severely eroded by “gotcha” tactics used by both parties. We also understand the reluctance of candidates to participate in open town-hall meetings when paid bird-doggers and disrupters threaten to distort and distract. There is a growing consensus that voters and the candidates have fewer opportunities now to really listen to each other and make informed decisions necessary to maintain a democracy.

New Hampshire Listens strives to create respectful conversations among Granite State residents and public officials. We offer tools for local communities to conduct interactive candidate forums. These forums feature face-to-face dialogue and ask that candidates and voters listen to each other, ask real questions and respectfully consider points of view different from their own. Starting this fall and next year during the presidential primary season, we plan to offer opportunities for genuine conversations that minimize sound bites while maximizing thoughtful discussions. We will especially help young voters, those least likely to go to the polls, to become engaged. Our society depends on high levels of participation by informed voters. New Hampshire can set an example for the rest of the country, and we are working hard to help our state do just that. ...

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Your concern about the state of campaigning is right on (“The senator and the GOP chicken” Aug. 30). We agree that the opportunity for voters to look candidates in the eye and have a civil and substantive exchange has been severely eroded by “gotcha” tactics used by both parties. We also understand the reluctance of candidates to participate in open town-hall meetings when paid bird-doggers and disrupters threaten to distort and distract. There is a growing consensus that voters and the candidates have fewer opportunities now to really listen to each other and make informed decisions necessary to maintain a democracy.

New Hampshire Listens strives to create respectful conversations among Granite State residents and public officials. We offer tools for local communities to conduct interactive candidate forums. These forums feature face-to-face dialogue and ask that candidates and voters listen to each other, ask real questions and respectfully consider points of view different from their own. Starting this fall and next year during the presidential primary season, we plan to offer opportunities for genuine conversations that minimize sound bites while maximizing thoughtful discussions. We will especially help young voters, those least likely to go to the polls, to become engaged. Our society depends on high levels of participation by informed voters. New Hampshire can set an example for the rest of the country, and we are working hard to help our state do just that.

Bruce Mallory

Michele Holt-Shannon

NH Listens, Carsey School of Public Policy

Durham