text

New Jerseyans share their stories and ideas about our democracy.

New Jersey's Democracy Conversation

In spring 2022, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities collected hundreds of responses from individuals throughout the state as part of our Democracy Conversation Project. Via both an online form and "ballot boxes" located at partner sites throughout the state, New Jerseyans provided their thoughts in response to four questions about our democracy:

  • What are the main challenges facing democracy today?
  • What do you remember about the first time you voted?
  • What does it mean to be a good citizen?
  • Why is voting important to you?

Responses were accepted in written, audio, video, and visual formats. They were compiled and displayed in interactive format on this page, below. Responses can be filtered by age of the respondent (when provided), as well as keyword tag, question prompt, and response type.

Visualizing Democracy Commissions

In summer 2023, NJCH announced the commissions of two projects aiming to explore, analyze, and visualize the responses in new and interactive ways. Commissions were awarded in response to a call for proposals.

What does it mean to be a good citizen?

The first project, above, is a brief animated video exploring the themes found in responses to the question "What does it mean to be a good citizen?" The video was created by filmmaker April Merl of South Orange.

The Misinformation Newspaper

Misinformation Newspaper

The second project, above, is a digital newspaper expounding on DCP responses related to misinformation as a challenge to democracy. It was created by artist and educator Melody Marshall of Woodbury.

All Responses

Filters

“Participate in political process”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“It’s our right – appreciate it!”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“Politicians polarizing the citizens”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Corporate control via lobbyist”

Christine and Asala
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“I get to decide who decides for me”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“Failing to listen to the concerns of community members”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Getting to know the candidates”

Mari
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“It is our voice speaking to those in government”

Mari
Why is voting important to you?

“Be part of the needed change”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“Rampant racial bias”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Respect each other”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Vote to keep people out”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“Ancestral blood has been spilled”

Avery
Why is voting important to you?

“Have a voice in who represents you”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“I like to see other people voting”

Sam
Why is voting important to you?

“Put their voice in the room beyond voting’

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“If you don’t vote – decisions happen to you not with you”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“Holding elected officials accountable”

Sharonda
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Honors the ancestors who fought and died for the right”

Sharonda
Why is voting important to you?

“Voter suppression and intimidation”

Sharonda
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Allows a community to have a say”

Princess
Why is voting important to you?

“Involved in elections”

Ave
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Elect people you want”

Ave
Why is voting important to you?

“I have a say in who gets elected”

Marilyn
Why is voting important to you?

“Prevent the people from living in tryanny”

Kalista , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Voting truly does effect the community”

Anonymous , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Using our voice as our power”

Trenton citizens
Why is voting important to you?

“Keep bad actors out of positions”

Trenton citizens
Why is voting important to you?

“Knowledgeable of the consequences of their action”

Trenton citizens
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Climate of voter restriction”

Trenton citizens
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Many fought for our rights”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“The bedrock of our democracy”

Gerald
Why is voting important to you?

“Allows your voice to be heard”

Anonymous , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Gives a citizen a sense of responsibility”

Anonymous , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Allows the population to make decisions”

Anonymous , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Participate and share your opinions”

Anonymous , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Make an impact based on your beliefs”

Anonymous , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Ensure ones country looks out for all of its people”

Anonymous , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Afterwards, I felt a sense of pride and liberation”

Lena , 24
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“Your vote counts”

Ivan , 63
Why is voting important to you?

“The ’72 Nixon-McGovern election”

Anonymous , 68
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“Be responsible for your own actions”

Bryan , 37
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Good citizen? Educated citizen!”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Voting is the major achievement of democracy”

Rita , 64
Why is voting important to you?

“I have seen in swing states how important the voice of a group is”

Amanda , 19
Why is voting important to you?

“Making a difference”

Emilia , 20
Why is voting important to you?

“Fake efforts to portray election results as fraudulent”

Molly , 76
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Dismissing whole communities from voting”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Para que tudos pueden tener si vos escuchado”

William , 21
Why is voting important to you?

“It evokes pride in being American”

Michael , 46
Why is voting important to you?

“The apathy of our young”

Michael , 46
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Lower income communities and minorities being underrepresented”

Joseph , 17
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“I have a chance to make a change”

Briana , 19
Why is voting important to you?

“To support the electorate”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“Tell others to vote and learn about your issues!”

Kevin , 67
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Uneducated voters”

Anonymous , 37
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Don’t sit on the sidelines”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“Freedom of choice”

Sofi
Why is voting important to you?

“I can’t vote for any of these candidates”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“God given right of being a good citizen”

Linda , 71
Why is voting important to you?

“I learned at a young age what it means to be an American”

Michael , 46
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“Democracy itself is the challenge”

Ira , 68
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“I went and canceled out a racist’s vote”

Anonymous
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“Those who want to deny others the right to vote”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Give us a voice”

Mary , 57
Why is voting important to you?

“Revere the flag and our country”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Help register new voters”

Maddy , 22
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Our politicians are financed by the health insurance industry”

Maureen , 67
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Power in choosing our government”

Anonymous
Why is voting important to you?

“To ensure social justice protects me”

Jennifer , 50
Why is voting important to you?

“Loyalty towards a party rather than majority’s wellbeing”

Aliya , 60
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Must have an active role in that government”

Anonymous , 44
Why is voting important to you?

“Everyone’s opinion counts”

Rulli , 10
Why is voting important to you?

“Lack of confidence in the integrity of our voting system”

Joy , 50
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Make sure that the laws being passed are fair to all”

Erin , 16
Why is voting important to you?

“Participating in elections”

Ariv , 8
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Each candidate has a fair chance of winning”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Voting gives you some voice to speak up”

Antony , 16
Why is voting important to you?

“Choosing who governs us”

Mary , 53
Why is voting important to you?

“I remember my mother helping me to register to vote”

Sherry , 59
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“It is Everest.”

Marci , 64
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Voter suppression…funding…misinformation…lack of faith….”

Jean , 67
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Pride and fear”

Marsha , 70
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“To have a say in our government”

Cathy , 57
Why is voting important to you?

“We need engaged, participatory democracy year round”

Aaron , 30
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Congress gridlock”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Extreme positioning to activate their base”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Like the way you live? Then vote for Nixon”

Ellen , 70
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Have a voice in determining what our democracy looks like”

Ann Marie , 55
Why is voting important to you?

“Both parties constantly vetoing and stalling progressive ideals”

Jonathan , 25
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Ballot security”

Larry
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“First-past-the-post-voting”

Andre , 15
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“False info being spread via social media”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Don’t be selfish”

Kay , 80
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“To be informed about issues facing your community”

Madhura , 55
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“To choose who will keep our republic thriving”

Pamela , 81
Why is voting important to you?

“Standing up for the disenfranchised”

Teri , 61
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Be informed – engage – vote”

Portia , 67
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“The feeling of awe, solemnity, and excitement”

Barbara , 70
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“I was happy to see that New York State had a Right to Life party”

Lisa , 60
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“The first time I voted was in 1960 – for John F. Kennedy”

Howard
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“Your actions benefit those around you”

Shane , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“It gives me a say”

Anonymous , 75
Why is voting important to you?

“They valued the rule of here and never failed to vote”

Karen , 75
Why is voting important to you?

“It gives me a voice that my grandmother didn’t have”

Francesca , 87
Why is voting important to you?

“Even if my side doesn’t succeed, I want to try”

Emma , 37
Why is voting important to you?

“Politicians, on paper, are supposed to help people”

Michael , 29
Why is voting important to you?

“Why live in a world you have no say in”

Azirah , 16
Why is voting important to you?

“The best way to affect change is to vote”

Quinn , 43
Why is voting important to you?

“Every vote matters”

Herb , 68
Why is voting important to you?

“No vote = no voice”

Anonymous , 68
Why is voting important to you?

“I will vote for the 1st time this November”

Donna , 17
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“I felt compelled to vote for my parents choice”

Poppy , 18
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“I hurried toward the Democrat table and she turned toward the Republican table”

Annie , 63
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“He dressed in a suit every time he voted”

Albert , 74
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“I was in 2nd grade and I was voting for the student council”

Adyant , 12
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“To be present in the process of living in democracy”

Erjana , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Being nervous”

Allan , 18
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“Being up to date with what is happening in politics”

Erjana , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“It gets your voice out there”

Gus , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“A good citizen is aware of the whole story”

Melanie , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“In 7th grade for my school’s mock election”

Shane , 18
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“People who will govern my life for the next 4 years”

Samriddhi , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“I can’t vote, I’m an immigrant”

Samriddhi , 18
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“Many people risked their lives and have died for you to vote”

Ricky , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Help out in society and contribute to the community”

Angelina , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“Vote freely and without scrutiny”

Melanie , 18
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“My opinion matters”

Saoirse , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“So many people forget the right to vote”

Tamara , 22
Why is voting important to you?

“Corporate greed”

Kara , 18
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“Not littering”

Megan , 19
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“I remember feeling very insignificant”

Julius , 18
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“The first time I voted was through the mail-in ballot sheet”

Saoirse , 18
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“I was the only person there at the time under 35”

Megan , 19
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“To get a say in how the state/nation is run”

Farhana , 18
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“Voting can impact our laws and very way of life”

Megan , 19
Why is voting important to you?

“Voting is something that has been fought hard for”

Melanie , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“protect democracy”

Kyra , 20
Why is voting important to you?

“I want my right to a representative in office”

Gabrielle , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Your voice is being heard”

Shane , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Actively participate”

Samriddhi , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“We should take advantage of that freedom”

Matthew , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Participate in government”

Farhana , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Supporting our troops”

Rafi , 18
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“I want my voice to be heard”

Julie , 50
Why is voting important to you?

“It allows for people to have their voice heard”

Sharika , 17
Why is voting important to you?

“I was a little scared when the curtain closed behind me”

James , 65
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“If we lose our right to vote we lose our right to choose”

Maribel , 57
Why is voting important to you?

“I felt so grown up”

Renee , 50
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“I rushed to get my paperwork”

Nancy , 23
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“listen to the voices of the people”

Mike , 16
Why is voting important to you?

“I can be part of a group”

Maddeine , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“Works to make the country better”

Susan , 35
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“There will still be issues that I don’t feel will or can be solved as a state”

Trista , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“I’m looking forward to doing so”

Erjana , 18
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“Your voice is heard”

Sharika , 17
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“Being heard and making an impact”

Amy , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“It allows me to express my opinion with no judgement”

Gabriella , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“It means that I have a voice in my community”

Swathi , 18
Why is voting important to you?

“I was bound and determined”

Carol , 58
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“active participant”

Anonymous
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“contribute to the fabric of democracy”

Claire , 60
Why is voting important to you?

“candidates who…represent the interests of all of us”

Patricia , 19
What does it mean to be a good citizen?

“magic!”

Anonymous
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“we all have responsibility”

Barbara , 88
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“I was helping shape the course of our country”

Kasey , 24
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

“The movement to limit voting”

Anonymous
What are the main challenges facing democracy today?

“it was a thrill”

Michael , 71
What do you remember about the first time you voted?

At NJCH, we believe that everyone should have access to humanities programming. Based on your organization and desired topics/formats, we offer programs—often subsidized by our federal and corporate funding—so that you can bring high quality humanities programs to your audiences.