Everyone who knows me knows how much I think we need to be involved in the political realm, as it ties in with everything else in existence. Every decision is political in some way, from the point you are a tiny clump of cells to long after our deaths, whether you like that thought or not. Not voting or not being an active citizen is an abdication of your responsibility to yourself, those you love, to our town, and to the Republic.
Voting is a big part of civic participation, but knowing what decisions are being made, and by what people, is just as important. Being able to see what is spin and what is true is equally necessary in the world today. It is not simple. Nothing in life worth doing is easy.
Now that we are in the digital age it is a little less complicated to pull those threads together and make decisions based on what you are able to find out. I’ve included several apps and sites below to help with various parts of your civic responsibility. They focus mainly on voting and tracking of elected national figures and national decision making, but the bulk of your responsibility is not at the national level. Your participation and votes make even more impact at the state and local level.
To start you off , the first step is getting information for local level civic engagement. The following are places to get information on a hyper local level, Farmington.
The Town of Farmington has a newly designed website, which is mobile friendly. That’s a big improvement over the old website, considering most people access the online world via their phones. I’ve provided a direct link for the town departments, town boards, and finally the town clerk. The School Board information is bundled at the SAU 61 site, which is mobile enabled as well.
Farmington provides access to official meetings on the Farmington Community TV 26 channel. You can also view archived previous meetings online. The Board of Selectmen, Budget Committee, Conservation Commission, Planning Board, Zoning Board, Trustees of the Trust Fund, and other meetings are available at the link below. The School Board meetings and deliberative session archives can viewed at the FSDTV 25 YouTube channel.
Access and Track Boards and Voting Records on the Town Sites
The next set of information will help with keeping track of what is going on in Concord at the statehouse:
Access and Track Bills and Voting Records at the NH General Court Site
Find Your NH Representatives: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx
Find Your NH Senator: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/Senate/members/wml.aspx
Find Your Executive Councilor: https://www.nh.gov/council/
NH General Court Website: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/
If all of this seems daunting or overwhelming it should. None of us was born with this knowledge or skill set. It all has to be learned, honed, retooled, and refined. If you don’t already use these tools on a regular basis the learning curve can be steep. That is all on you. Start now. Ask questions. Go to board meetings or e-mail them when you feel passionate about something. Most importantly don’t be afraid to be disappointed, to fail, or to be wrong sometimes. That’s all of us at some point. It’s going to happen. Often.
Citizen engagement and voter turn out are at abysmal lows, especially when you compare them to the highs of the twentieth century. When the United States of America started the only people who could participate in society and had a vote were wealthy, white, male landowners. That’s it. That’s the limited vision we had then. A very small group of people deciding the fate of everyone, without representation.
By the time I was born, in the last half of the twentieth century, many, long and hard fights had been waged pulling down barriers to voting, expanding the ability to participate in government and granting the right to vote to all women, every race, and even more young people. Most of that happened in a single century, the time of a single person’s life.
Please vote on November 6th. Please vote in every election. Please come to each town meeting in March. Please come to each school deliberative session. The people you are waiting for to bring forth new ideas, to speak up, “clean up the downtown,” “fix things,” “change boards,” or “vote them out,” are you.
Democracy Works Turbo Vote
TurboVote is an application that makes voting easy.We make it easy to register and request absentee ballots. We help you remember everything (about voting, at least).
The Sunlight Foundation’s Congress App
Keep on top of Congress.
* Find your representatives, see how they vote
* See what bills are coming up for a vote next
* Search for bills and votes you should know about
* Stay on top of floor activity, committee hearings
* Be notified of just about everything
Notes for those interested in permissions or analytics:
* The app makes phone calls only when you tap the “Call” button for a member of Congress.
* We collect anonymous app usage statistics by default. To opt out: from the main screen, tap the menu on the top right, tap Settings, then uncheck “Allow Analytics”.
This app is proudly open source:
Get alerts when they vote, then tell them what you think. It’s never been easier to make your voice heard.
Your government, made simple.
Friends don’t let friends not vote.