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In Our Backyard: Tell us how you’re feeling about the state of local democracy in N.H.

Signs outside the Lee transfer station during the 2021 town election instruct voters to wear their masks and shut off their engines.
Dan Tuohy
/
NHPR
The pandemic is one of many factors forcing changes on how local voters interact with their elected officials. Last spring, many towns opted to hold "drive-through voting" as a safety precaution. In Lee, that took place at the local transfer station.

New Hampshire prides itself on its civic engagement — especially at the local level.

At the same time, anyone familiar with local politics will tell you that debates on seemingly small issues can feel like they carry the biggest stakes. And it’s not always possible for people to participate in those debates; they might not have the time to sit in town or city hall for hours on end, or they might not feel welcome.

InOurBackyard_Dark_Square.png
Sara Plourde
/
NHPR

On top of that, rising polarization and misinformation has complicated matters for communities trying to find common ground on all kinds of issues: local voting procedures, school masking rules and more.

With that in mind, we want to hear from you: Tell us what civic engagement looks like for you on a local level. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the questions below, or if you have a perspective not reflected there, we’d welcome that, too.

Your responses will help us better understand what local democracy looks like in New Hampshire right now. Your feedback could also inform future stories or news segments, but we won’t publish any of your comments without your permission.

So far, we've heard from people serving in public roles in their communities about how they're navigating the current political moment. We've also heard from people who aren't in elected roles, but still care deeply about their community, who've shared concerns about rising extremism — or stories about how they're trying to spur more civil conversations and civic engagement among their neighbors. We'd love to hear your stories, too.

If you have something to share, please email us at voices@nhpr.org, or leave us a voicemail at 603-513-7790. You can also share a voice memo on the NHPR app. (See below for more details on how to respond via our app.)

  • Have you found unexpected common ground with anyone on an opposing side of an issue recently? Where did that come from? Has your community compromised on anything?
  • How connected do you feel to the decision makers, like the select board or town council, in your community? How has that changed in recent years?
  • Have you noticed local issues becoming more polarized, or more influenced by national politics, in your community? If so, how has that shown up?

  • If you serve in a public role in your community, how has your experience changed in recent years? If you’ve thought about getting more involved in your community, as a voter or an elected official, what has motivated you — or, what’s held you back?

Here’s how to send us your responses through the NHPR app:

  • Download the NHPR app by searching “NHPR” on the Apple App Store for iPhones or iPads, or the Google Play Store for Androids.
  • Open the app and go to the menu using the button with three lines in the top left corner.
  • Select “Talk to Us.”
  • Press the microphone button, and talk away!
  • Click the blue “SEND” button to draft an email
  • Send your voice straight to our inboxes.
Steps to take in the NHPR app to submit an answer for The Big Question

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