Here are some frequently asked questions about our organization and its operations.
Why was Citizens Count formed?
Citizens Count℠ was formed to make citizen engagement easier in New Hampshire, based on the premise that greater engagement on the part of citizens will lead to better government policies.
“The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.”
- Thomas Jefferson
Prior to 1985, the New Hampshire Legislature reviewed 250 bills per year, but today there are over 1,000 and this number doesn't even take local issues into account. The vast majority of New Hampshire citizens are unaware of what issues these bills address, how they would be impacted, and where their elected officials stand on these issues.
Because of this large increase in bills, coupled with our citizens' busy lifestyles and changes in communication, New Hampshire citizens are less informed and engaged than previously. This reduced engagement has left special interests with ever-increasing power to affect New Hampshire government policies. For this reason, the Founding Members want to bolster the role of active citizens that has long been a cornerstone of New Hampshire's proud and storied past. New Hampshire citizens need tools that can keep them connected, active, and able to make an impact on their government and we provide these citizenship tools.
Is Citizens Count truly nonpartisan?
We are vigorously nonpartisan with an emphasis on citizen engagement, not politics. Citizens Count is not against political parties or special interests, rather we welcome people from all political parties and independents with a variety of views. This wide range of opinions is a source of energy and ideas that will help solve national, state, and local problems and advance our nation. It is important to note that our Founding Members represent the full range of political philosophies.
Unfortunately, our country is in the grips of a hyper-partisanship epidemic that is taking political polarization to an extreme. Public opinion polls confirm that many citizens believe political parties sometimes do more to confuse the issues than to clarify them, and the number of independents is growing.
We offer a solution as an objective source of information about New Hampshire issues and candidates and a civil forum for citizens to find common ground. We provide an alternative to spin and biased information and by doing so help break down the barriers of partisanship.
Isn't this just another anti-tax or special interest group?
We do not take a pro or con position on any policy issue, including taxes. Rather, our organization supports the following Core Values:
- Citizen engagement
- Keeping well-informed and expressing views
- Transparency and communication
- Informed voting
- Volunteering and collaborating
- Ethics and respect
- Civics education
A complete description of our Core Values is available here.
What makes this effort unique?
We take no policy positions and endorse no candidates. We are truly the servant of the citizen, providing them with honest, nonpartisan information and tools that make citizen engagement easier. Our organization is member-driven. Members set the agenda, propose and debate issues, and take action as individuals. Citizens Count exists to facilitate these actions. We are the only major initiative of this kind serving the people of New Hampshire.
How does Citizens Count pursue its mission?
We reach out to a very broad community, connecting with citizens through our website, online forums, social media (Facebook and Twitter), and group meetings. By providing objective information on issues, candidates and elected officials, and collaborative tools for citizens to engage with each other and with their elected officials, we will succeed in our mission. By harnessing technology, we are active citizenship for the 21st century.
How broad and diverse is the membership body?
One of the unique aspects of our membership is the great diversity of its Founding Members and a current membership that crosses all political philosophies. We not only welcome people from all political parties, but believe that this very diversity will make our state and communities stronger and more vibrant. Everyone is welcome.
Whose idea was it to form this group?
In 2008, a small group of New Hampshire citizens of various political persuasions felt that "citizen engagement" was being confused with "politics." The vast majority of our citizens had become disenchanted with politicians and had checked out, thereby neglecting their civic duty to help define government policies. Meanwhile, our education system was not educating students on civics generally, or on the role and obligations citizens need to fulfill in order to sustain a healthy democracy. The Founding Members decided to try to provide tools to make citizen engagement easier with the goal of bringing citizens back into New Hampshire’s democratic process.
The Founding Members felt that taking on a challenge like this at the national level would be impossible, but that hyper-partisanship was not so severe in New Hampshire and that the state was compact enough to enhance the odds of success.
What is the legal status of this effort?
Citizens Count is a New Hampshire not-for-profit organization and is an approved federal 501(c)(3) public charity. That is, contributions to support us are tax deductible to the extent of the law.
Are there any out of state forces driving this group?
No. Citizens Count is New Hampshire based and managed.
Isn't the phrase "Live Free or Die" outdated?
The phrase is still very much alive. It has been the state's motto since 1945 and it belongs to all New Hampshire citizens. In a Becker Poll in March 2008, the year when Citizens Count was founded, 76% of those interviewed approved of the "Live Free or Die" concept, including over 80% of young people. Citizens Count is proud to be known as NH's Live Free or Die Alliance.
How can people join?
Through our website: www.CitizensCount.org or snail mail to: 1 Liberty Lane East, Suite 100, Hampton, NH 03824
Are there dues? How much does it cost to join?
It costs nothing to join, but we rely on donations to carry on our mission. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, your donation is tax deductible to the extent of the law. If you would like to make a donation, click here.
How is this group going to grow?
Through word of mouth, outreach, and modern communication efforts. We have continuously grown since our inception, and, as we approach 200,000 community members, we are now the largest nonpartisan community of our kind in New Hampshire.
What is a Member?
Members are individuals who share our goals, support our Core Values, and have provided contact information to us. Members can be people who register through the website, people who join Citizens Count directly by phone, e-mail, or snail mail or people who interact with us through social media. For more information on membership, click here.
Members who want to interact and join in on discussions on our website need to register their membership through the website. We call these Regular Members.
What is a Founding Member?
An individual who has helped structure and launch our organization. For more information, see About Us.
What is the Citizens Count Council?
A group of Regular Members throughout the state who have volunteered to be active in Citizens Count by organizing and leading activities in their communities.
What is the role of the Board of Directors?
Oversight of the organization as an entity. Our agenda is set by the members. For more information, see About Us.
Will Citizens Count have a social aspect?
Yes, membership meetings, Council meetings, debates and any other activities desired by the members for camaraderie and enjoyment.
Funding and Budget
Who is funding this effort? How is it going to sustain itself and be successful?
Funding is through members’ voluntary contributions (as a 501(c)(3) organization, these are tax deductible to the extent of the law), as well as by corporate sponsors and some foundation grants. Donors and sponsors are listed on our website and exercise no special influence on content. We are also sustained by our unpaid volunteers.
Will Citizens Count advertise?
Yes, if necessary, to promote outreach for new members.
What are the expenses of Citizens Count?
Annual expenses support our small staff and operations.
Does Citizens Count have an office? Staff?
We have a small staff responsible for administration, technology, editorial content, and outreach. Our staff and volunteers work in their home offices and donated office space.
Engagement with Government Officials
Is Citizens Count going to lobby certain laws?
We do not lobby. We provide information to our members; the members will do the lobbying on issues that concern them if they are so inclined. We will amplify citizen opinions on issues through our Citizen Voices, which are sent to media and government officials on behalf of our members, and are presented by a Citizens Count staff member at related legislative hearings.
Is Citizens Count going to target candidates in New Hampshire elections?
No, Citizens Count is a civic, not a political entity—we will provide honest, nonpartisan information to voters on candidates and elected officials as they relate to issues in the state, but we will not endorse candidates. Our goal is not just for citizens to vote, but to make an informed vote. This is why we launched our Citizens Count NH Voter Guide mobile app, which connects voters to detailed information on candidates in their district. Through both our app and our website, citizens can learn the background and experience of the candidates as well as where they stand on key issues, and, for incumbents, how they voted in the past and performed in office, the latter based on an array of objective, nonpartisan measures.
Is this a conservative or liberal group?
A New Hampshire group—all political philosophies are welcome and we encourage a diversity of views.
Will this group be more visible during state elections?
We are visible at all times. During elections in our state, we provide information on every candidate for state and federal office both through our website and our NH Voter Guide mobile app.
Does this group have any major political support?
We are not about politics. We are vigorously nonpartisan, but we are confident that many public servants subscribe to our Core Values, since many are already members and others have supported our efforts in various ways. We welcome other elected officials to join and interact with citizens.
Does Citizens Count need volunteers?
Volunteers are essential to the vitality of Citizens Count as a citizen-driven, member-driven organization. We welcome them.
What do volunteers do?
Volunteers help edit issues, conduct research, organize events, recruit members, maintain and monitor the website and social media, update merchandise and promote us in their local community. Click here to volunteer.
Why should I volunteer?
Volunteering with Citizens Count is one way to become an engaged citizen, fulfilling your civic responsibilities to help shape our democratic government in a most effective manner.
What are the benefits of volunteering?
A study by the Corporation for National and Community Service in 2007 concluded that volunteering "leads to a sense of greater self-worth and trust" and "when individuals volunteer, they are more likely to live longer." Sounds good, doesn't it? Click here to learn more.