(Oct. 11, 2017) Catherine Read talks with AARP Community Ambassador Berniece Courtenay about a new program called “We Want to Know” which was created to foster greater voter engagement. Virginia is one of only two states with an off-year Governor’s race in 2017. Along with Lt. Governor and Attorney General, there are also 100 seats in the House of Delegates on the ballot this year.
Berniece Courtenay talks about her journey to becoming an AARP Ambassador and the many volunteer opportunities available right here in our local community. Many people have a very narrow and one dimensional view of the AARP organization. There are thousands of AARP volunteers spread out across the country, and many volunteers here in Virginia. One of the core missions of AARP is education, and related to that is advocacy around issues affecting their members.
The AARP We Want to Know voter engagement program is using social media to encourage voters to reach out to the candidates running for election in 2017 to ask questions about the issues they care about. They are using Twitter to encourage people to submit questions to @AARPVa and also their Facebook page to highlight their “Flat People” device for encouraging people to write down their questions for candidates and post them on social media platforms. They are using the hashtag #WW2K
Catherine points out the reluctance some people have of asking their question in a public forum even when the opportunity is created, as it was during the NoVIE Forum for both gubernatorial candidates. Those specific voter questions are central to making candidates aware of what a particular community, or region, is concerned about. It also highlights very specific issues that may not be part of a candidate’s talking points or stump speeches.
According to Virginia’s AARP State Director, Jim Dau, “We Want to Know amplifies the voices of Virginia voters so that candidates have to listen – and respond – to their concerns.”
Virginia voters can send their questions to candidates via @AARPVa on Twitter, post questions to AARP’s Facebook page, visit the We Want to Know – Virginia website and also find links to statewide candidates social media pages at http://states.aarp.org/va-candidate-links/