Voting is the most crucial way for us as citizens to have our voices heard by politicians. The United States has a low voter turnout rate compared to other countries. The 2020 election saw a jump in eligible Americans voting from 59.2% in 2016 to 67.7% in 2020. The question is, how do we keep our citizenry engaged and involved?
It is essential to teach our children that voting happens every year. From House of Representatives races every two years, including primaries, to states that choose to have local races in odd years, political races are happening every year. Our job as parents is to explain to children what these people do and how these people affect our everyday lives.
Let’s start local. Teaching our children about the city council and the school board is an important place to start. Children go to school and can see how school board decision affect their everyday lives—paying attention to the school board is a great way to show children how important politics are.
Next is to encourage children to care about social issues. The first social issue kids usually learn about is the environment. Learning about endangered animals in school is the first step for many children to learn how legislation can help animals. The Endangered Species Act has saved many animals in the United States.
Once your child becomes a teenager, it is important to teach your child specifically about voting. Get excited about every chance you get to vote. Show your child the information you receive about voting, and teach your child how to research candidates. Research candidates together if you can. If your state gives you and your child the day off on election day, you can take your child with you to the polls.
As soon as your child is eligible to register to vote, encourage them to register. Celebrate your child’s first time voting. I worked as a poll worker in 2020, and every time someone told us it was their first time voting, we congratulated them.
Voting should be ordinary and celebrated. In the same way, Americans celebrate their 21st birthday, Americans should celebrate voting for the first time. As a parent, my job is to make sure my son is politically engaged and looking forward to voting. We, as parents, can show our kids how important voting is and make the next generation more politically engaged.