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League of Women Voters to host series on getting past political polarization

This story originally aired on News 5 WCYB.

As the 2024 presidential election draws near, political polarization is top of mind. The local chapter of the League of Women Voters is launching a series aimed at combatting political polarization.

“We understand the world differently,” said Ramsey McGowen, vice president for the league’s Northeast Tennessee chapter. “We don't talk to each other as much. We begin to see each other as enemies rather than citizens sharing problems to solve, and when that happens, it becomes very difficult to function in a constructive way.”

The league works to promote voting and voter education. This series will consist of three Sunday afternoon sessions: first a panel of current and former local leaders and politicians.

“We think they'll be a great group to address the common ground they've found in their own lives running for political office,” board member Kathy Benedetto said.

Then, a conversation on evaluating news sources, and a third session on finding common ground.

“We really have more commonalities than differences, even around topics that are very controversial right now,” Benedetto said.

In some ways though, the heightened political focus is resulting in positives.

Washington County, Tennessee administrator of elections Dana Jones said she’s filled most of her slots for poll workers.

With a mandate to have 50 percent from each party, it breaks down barriers.

“When you take politics away and you have precincts staffed 50/50 and they're all from your community, they all get along really, really well,” Jones said.

Jones is still looking for more poll workers. After shattering turnout records three times in 2020, the same is expected next fall.