By Jennifer Gledhill, Community Integration Coordinator, Search, Inc.
Q: How, in 2020, does a non-profit agency serving adults with intellectual disabilities conduct voter education classes without injecting any personal bias into the narrative?
A: By listening to the candidates’ own words, of course.
In this most delicate election year, Search is once again ensuring that the individuals we serve are afforded their right as an American citizen to vote for President in the general election.
It should surprise no one to hear that this year, perhaps even more so than in previous years, Americans are pretty divided about the issues confronting our society. Not everyone agrees how to deal with a global pandemic, nor the economy that screeched to a halt in its deadly awake. We are not all on the same page about the civil rights movements across the country. And not everyone sees eye to eye on the great state of taxes.
So to keep our discussions free of passionate political personalities, we feel the best way to encourage voter empowerment is to take out the middleman and listen to the two gentlemen vying for the White House this year. With this, our 2020 presidential debate watch-party series begins.
All self-advocates who have voted in previous elections, as well as those Americans in our care who may be voting for the first time, have been invited to watch in real time – on Zoom of course – each man lay out their vision for the next four years in this country (and probably defend their actions for the last thirty years, give or take).
We will watch, listen, and take mental notes together, then follow through and fact check any questions we have on the other side of the debate. These days, Monday afternoons are reserved for citizens of our self-advocate group to ask questions, raise concerns, and dig deeper than the sound bite to find the truth behind the promises.
Fun fact: the two issues that our self-advocates are most concerned about this year? The civil rights protests and (always) sensible gun control policy.
Then a very close third: healthcare.