Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Day: How To Explain Voting To Your Kids

Today is election day, and many of you are going to vote today, or have already voted early or by mail.
For those of you that haven't decided if you are going to vote or not, just remember that while the Electoral College decides our President, it is us as local voters that decide who makes the laws in our town and state that directly affect us. 
Trying to get kids to understand the voting process and why we vote can be tricky. Below are a few tips for explaining voting to them:
  • Relate voting to something on their level
    My kids are in Elementary school, so I explained voting in terms they can understand. If they were getting a new principal at their school to make the rules for them, and they were the ones that got to decide, they would take a vote. Mr A and Mr B are both running for Principal of their school. There are 100 kids in their school, and while 90 kids love Mr A, only 10 kids like Mr B. When it comes time to vote, if 9 kids that like Mr B vote, and only 5 kids that like Mr A vote, Mr B would get to be the pricipal, even though most of the kids don't like him. It doesn't matter how many people want a person to be the principal, it matters how many people VOTE for him.
  • Explain to them the importance of voting
    Again, like in the scenario above, it doesn't matter how many people want a person to be elected, it matters how many people actually get out and VOTE for that person.
  • Get them involved with your vote
    By talking to them openly about the different ads they are seeing on TV, and why you are voting for a certain candidate, will help them be familiar with voting so that when they turn 18, it's not an unknown and scary process for them. Explain to them the different ways to vote (early voting, by mail, standing in line at a poll location, why soldiers vote by absentee ballot, etc.), and discuss the way you choose to vote and why.
  • Hold a mock election
    One of the best ways to get kids to understand something is to allow them to do it. Hold an election on what is the best family TV show to watch, what food should be cooked for dinner, etc. It doesn't matter what you are voting on, just that you are showing them the process of voting and that each vote really does count. I remember in Elementary and Jr High School they held a mock election for President of The United States. We had an assembly explaining each candidate, and then we each got to decide who to vote for.
  • Use resources already out there
    PBS has a great website dedicated to helping kids understand the election and voting. Refer to other credible sources that are already out there.
  • Explaining the Electoral College and how the President of The United States is chosen:
    Here is a great video that explains it all, in terms even I can understand!

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