03/06/2013 05:35 pm ET Updated May 06, 2013

Listening for Ohio Democracy

In a season of polarizing political rhetoric, with deliberate distortion and exaggeration the order of the day, people of faith are called to seek higher ground. We ought to move into authentic dialogue, and work on our individual and collective ability to listen to one another.

It is in this spirit that Ohio Prophetic Voices met with Ohio Secretary of State John Husted (R) recently to have an honest and frank discussion of voting challenges in the state during 2012, and how to move forward in the Buckeye State. The meeting, which lasted more than an hour, moved beyond polite conversation to frank, honest and tension-filled dialogue rooted in the 2012 electoral experiences of each person in the room and their connections to everyday Ohioans.

The primary outcome of the meeting is an agreement between Secretary of State Husted and Ohio Prophetic Voices to conduct a listening tour in several communities throughout the state. Over the next several weeks, we hope to have significant conversations that include stories of those who have felt marginalized by the electoral process, and the frustrations experienced by many in 2012. As faith leaders, we believe all people are created in God's image, and therefore all voices are important as we seek a more participatory democracy. We trust that this tour will accent the value of every Ohioan.

We must not stop there, however. For this tour to be successful, we must come up with ways to increase electoral participation throughout the state through just and fair non-partisan strategies. With the advent of early voting and increased opportunities to vote by mail, new strategies are needed to combat long lines and ensure that every citizen in the state is able to vote without undue burden. We are confident, as we share and listen to one another, that this tour with Secretary of State Husted will grow democracy in Ohio.