Preparing for Participation
Educating all young people for their role in democracy
Our low voter registration rate, combined with rapidly dropping participation in elections for primary nominations and municipal government, also spotlights a troubling disconnect between citizens and their representative democracy—one due at least in part to a lack of widely shared public understanding of government, elections, and citizen power. To address these deficiencies, we need programs designed to systematically register every eligible voter in America and give them information about voting mechanics and electoral choices.
Here you can find an aggregate of resources geared toward encouraging youth to become active members of their democracy, not just through voting, but also through civic education, working as poll workers, discussing electoral reform among their peers, and understanding their local, state, and federal elections. Once young people are engaged in elections and vote as soon as they can, they become voters for life, which provides a strong foundation for the future of our democracy. If we can create life-long voters nation-wide each year, our democracy will have a much more educated and dedicated populace, necessary for democracy to truly work as it should to represent everyone. Below you will find links to documents and information about reforms that support these ideas.
Resources and Links:
- Youth Preregistration - The advance registration of 16- and 17-year-olds to vote so that young would-be voters are ready to take part in our democracy as soon as they are of age.
- Take Action for Preregistration Get involved! Send a letter to your state legislature and governor to expand voter registration to 16 and 17 year olds.
- 17-year-old Primary Voting - Allowing young people who will be 18 by the time of a general election to vote in corresponding primary elections.
- Learning Democracy curriculum - Developed by Adam Fogel, the 45-minute powerpoint and extensive multi-lesson guide provide lesson plans for a variety of topics surrounding voter registration, the history of suffrage, and the right to vote.
- Democracy Innovation report: Student Member of the Board - A question and answer session with Tim Hwang, the 2009-2010 Student Member of the Board of Education in Montgomery County, Maryland.
- Other places to get involved: Project Vote, The League of Young Voters, and Rock the Vote