In the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, voters are serious about their role on presidential politics. But while the vote for president is important, there are also down-ballot races and issues that are equally important because they impact lives on a daily basis. Citizens Count is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, New Hampshire-based organization whose mission is providing unbiased information about issues and candidates in the Granite State.
The organization accomplishes its mission through its website, citizenscount.org, a comprehensive compendium of detailed state and federal candidate profiles, well-organized and up-to-date summaries of every piece of legislation going through the state Legislature, and technology that allows New Hampshire citizens to connect with their representatives and with each other. And it’s all scrupulously done without an agenda or bias.
On the state level, New Hampshire has 400 state representatives and 24 state senators, who are paid $100 a year plus mileage, and in a given year they vote on about 1,000 bills. “Part of the beauty of New Hampshire is that we have such a citizen-run government that’s very accessible in many ways,” says Anna Brown, director of research and analysis for Citizens Count. “We have an opportunity to help people really impact government policy and take power away from out-of-state or big-money interests just by providing them with information.”
One way of providing that information is through the classroom. As a donor to Citizens Count, the Lewis Family Foundation saw an opportunity last year that aligned with its philosophy of promoting responsible citizenship through education. While much of the content on their website is at a high level, Citizens Count wanted to provide its articles at a lower reading level that’s more accessible. Amy worked with the Lewis Family Foundation’s director of social mission, Jacquelyn Benson, to develop ways to use the website in the classroom. The ideas they came up with included holding mock elections, studying the presidential primary, and teaching students how to debate the pros and cons of issues. A grant from the Lewis Family Foundation helped support the project.
We hope you will join us in inspiring New Hampshire’s citizens to make a difference.