We the People Election Year
For the 2016 election year, CPD held a number of events on the role of everyday citizens on U.S. politics. For many of the forums, we invited high school students from Alief and Yes Prep! Dr. Lawrence worked with the high school students beforehand to allow them to discuss the issues in their own affinity groups before attending the UHD forums and discussing with community members, college students, faculty, administrators and staff. We also worked closely with Walk2Vote to connect the importance of deliberation with the act of voting.
After the election, we also held a breakfast election reflection, where students were invited to have breakfast, discuss the election, and write their reflections on a large mural we made up of newsprint.
We the People Election Year Goals:
- Foster community at UHD regardless of ideological differences during the election
- Determine to what degree deliberation influences people’s willingness to vote
- Assess to what degree deliberation influences people’s willingness to take action to improve their communities
- Measure to what degree deliberation influenced participants were likeliness to participate in UHD’s Walk2Vote signature event
- Encourage participants to better understand their own attitudes and beliefs
- Facilitate understanding of others’ attitudes and beliefs
- Foster a willingness for participants do discuss political issues
- Enable participants to communicate effectively with people who may have different beliefs
- Increase participants understanding of the importance of listening to others’ voices (including everyday people) in solving problems increased
- Create more connectedness between participants and others in their community as well as a feeling of connectedness to the University of Houston – Downtown
- Organize for strong diversity at the forums
- Invite high school students to participate in forums in order to increase their sense of civic agency
We the People Initiative Outcomes:
Right after the community forum we held at UHD with the high school students present, we distributed questionnaires and 60 of the 100 people responded:
- In addition to the 47 percent of people who reported they already planned to vote in this year’s election, an additional 42 percent of participants reported that they were more likely to vote as a result of attending this forum.
- In addition to the 10 percent of the participants who had already planned to attend the Walk2Vote initiative, an additional 53 percent participants reported they were more likely to participate in Walk2Vote after this forum.
- In addition to the 27 percent of people who planned to take action before they attended this forum, over an additional 50 percent of the participants reported they were more likely to take an action they heard at the forum or they thought of themselves to make things better in their community.
- Seventy percent of participants reported their understanding of their own attitudes and beliefs increased.
- Seventy-eight percent of participants reported that their understanding of others’ attitudes and beliefs on this issue increased.
- Over 83 percent of participants reported their wiliness to discuss political issues with others increased.
- Seventy-eight percent participants reported their ability to communicate effectively with people who may have different beliefs on the issue increased.
- Eighty-five percent participants reported their understanding of the importance of listening to others’ voices (including everyday people) in solving problems increased.
- Seventy-eight percent respondents reported they feel more connected to others in their community as a result of the forum.
- Over 83 percent of respondents reported they feel more connected to the University of Houston-Downtown.
- We organized for strong age diversity, with 61 percent of the participants were between the ages of 18 and 30 (the age group typically least likely to participate politically), 22.03% participants were ages 31 – 45, 15.25% were ages 46-64 and 1.69% participants were 65 or older.
- We boasted strong racial and ethnic diversity with 40.68% African American, 3.39% Asian American, 32% Hispanic or Latino, 1.69% Native American, 16.95% White or Caucasian, and 5.08% Other.
Three weeks after the 2016 Presidential Election, we emailed participants who agreed to participate a follow-up survey. Twenty-three participants responded of the 40 who agreed to participate:
- Everyone reported they voted.
- In addition to the 21 percent who already planned to take action before attending the forum, 43 percent reported they took action to make something better in their community as a result of their attendance at the forum.
- Ninety-six percent of participants reported they still felt more connected to others in their community.
- One-hundred percent of participants felt more connected to University of Houston – Downtown.