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TCI Doing Democracy Toolkit: Participating in Elections

TCI Doing Democracy Toolkit: Participating in Elections

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For election season, TCI is sharing a section from their Government Alive! Doing Democracy Toolkink. This contains background information for students and assignments on topics like evaluating sources of voter information and evaluating candidates for public office. Great for use in government classes.
For election season, TCI is sharing a section from their Government Alive! Doing Democracy Toolkink. This contains background information for students and assignments on topics like evaluating sources of voter information and evaluating candidates for public office. Great for use in government classes.

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Published by: Natasha Martin Lerner on Oct 26, 2010
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11/07/2012

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Section Five
Participating in Elections
“Inside the polling booth every American man and womanstands as the equal of every other American man and woman.Tere they have no superiors. Tere they have no masters savetheir own minds and conscience.” 
—Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945)
Elections are the building blocks o democracy, yet voter turnouts in U.S.elections remain surprisingly low, especially among young Americans. In
Is Voting for Young People?,
political scientist Martin Wattenberg argues,“Many young people don’t vote simply because they don’t ollow politics.”When students learn how to participate in the electoral process, they aremore likely to become lielong voters. Te tools in this section are designedto help your students get engaged in the election process
now
in the hope o making them lielong voters.
Registering and Preparing to VoteEvaluating Candidates or Political O ceVolunteering in a Political Campaign
45
Excerpted from TCI's Doing Democracy Toolkitwww.teachtci.com800-497-6138
 
46
 © eachers’ Curriculum Institute 2, Inc.
Registering and Preparing to Vote
Section Five
Registering to vote means signing up to become a legal voter. Preparing to vote involves educating yoursel about the candidates and issues on the ballot. Both areessential responsibilities o citizens in a democracy.
 Why should you vote?
I you were the member o a team, you would respectyour teammates by warming up or a big game. Votingalso requires preparation, but with bigger stakes.You are making decisions that will aect your ellowcitizens, your community, and your country.
How do you register to vote?
Registering to vote is simple. I you are 18, you can doso now. I you are not yet 18, you can get everythingready to submit near your 18th birthday.
1 Find out your state’s voting requirements.
I youare a U.S. citizen and will be 18 by Election Day,you are eligible to register to vote. Beyond that,every state has slightly dierent residency require-ments and registration procedures. For example,some states require you to register at least a monthbeore the next election. Others will allow you toregister at the polling place on Election Day.Contact your Division o Elections by telephone oronline or details on how to register in your state.
2 Complete and submit a voter registration orm.
Get a voter registration orm rom your county election board or download one rom a Web site likerockthevote.com. It will ask or basic inormationincluding your age, name, address, and social security number. I you want to vote in primary elections, youmust register as a member o a specic political party.However, you can change your party af liation asyou wish. Submit your orm to the address indicatedat least a month beore the next election. I insteadyou plan to register on Election Day, bring a com-pleted registration orm and any required identi-cation with you to your polling place.
3 Keep your registration current.
Once you are aregistered voter, keep your registration current by  voting. I you move, you will probably need to registeragain at your new address. I you leave home to attendcollege, you will still be able to vote in your homedistrict by mail by asking or an absentee ballot.
How can you prepare to vote intelligently?
Registering to vote is the easy part. Preparing to castyour vote intelligently takes more work. But it is alsoessential to the health o our democracy. As PresidentJohn F. Kennedy once warned, “Te ignorance o one voter in a democracy impairs the security o all.”
1 Learn all you can about the candidates.
Most candi-dates are eager to communicate with you. Read theirads and brochures. Attend candidate orums and cam-paign events. Read about candidates’ backgrounds,community involvement, and policy positions on theirWeb sites. Pay attention to who contributes to theircampaigns and which interest groups endorse them.
2 Study the ballot measures.
In some states, the Divi-sion o Elections has lots o inormation about ballotmeasures. In others, look to sources like those listed inthe ollowing task sheet or inormation. Newspapersand newscasts are other good sources o inormationabout ballot measures. Study this material to nd outwho sponsored each measure, which groups supportit, who will pay or it, and how much it will cost.
3 Obtain and fll out a sample ballot.
In most statesyou will receive a sample ballot in the mail beoreElection Day. Fill it out and bring it with you to thepolling place. Tis will make voting aster and easier.
4
 
Find out where to vote.
You should receive inor-mation beore Election Day telling you where to vote. I not, call your local voting commission. Somestates require voters to identiy themselves with apicture ID at the polling place. I your state is one o them, be sure to arrive with the proper identication.
Excerpted from TCI's Doing Democracy Toolkitwww.teachtci.com800-497-6138
 
47
© eachers’ Curriculum Institute 2, Inc.
Evaluating Sources of Voter Information
Participating in Elections
o be an inormed voter, you will need inormation about the candidates and measures on the ballot.Use this chart to locate and evaluate voter inormation resources in your area. o locate each source,check your local telephone book or search by name online. Download any inormation oered, or ask to have it mailed to you.Voting inormationresourceDoes this resourcehave inormation onelections in my area?How will this inormationhelp me prepare to vote?On a scale o 1to 5, how useulis this resourceto me?County electionsof ce State Division o ElectionsLocal party headquartersLeague o WomenVoters (lwv.org)Project Vote Smart(vote-smart.org)National ConstitutionCenter(constitutioncenter.org)Local newspaperFriends and amily members
Excerpted from TCI's Doing Democracy Toolkitwww.teachtci.com800-497-6138

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