Too Young to Vote: Three Ways Youth Can Take Action

Posted by: Erin Reuland

Even children who are too young for social media seem to be aware that the country will soon elect a new president. The youth who will inherit our future may not yet be old enough to vote, but their voices can still be a part of the conversation.

In fact, engaging youth in age-appropriate political discourse supports a healthy development journey. According to Trey Greyson, Director of the Harvard Institute of Politics, “Discussing controversial issues, engaging in service learning… being contacted by parties and campaigns, and participating in extracurricular groups all predict good civic engagement outcomes for students.”

To help support the teens and children in your care, here are three tips from Youth Service America:

1. Discuss current events

Youth can begin to understand U.S. politics and form their personal views well before they are old enough to vote. So encourage them to learn about the issues that are important to them by watching local and national news broadcasts and regularly reading newspapers or appropriate online news articles. If possible, make sure these news resources are un-biased and readily accessible.

Remember that not every family or child has access to view live debates or election night results. Hosting a Viewing Party is one way to help engage the entire community, especially children and teens, in the democratic process.

BONUS TIP: If you know an experienced group facilitator, ask them to lead a group discussion afterwards.

2. Engage in service learning

Voter registration is critical to the democratic process. Before they turn 18, teens can volunteer for Voter Registration Drives at YMCAs or other community organizations. These drives educate families, friends and neighbors about the electoral process.

Teens can also serve as poll workers on election day. In fact, 41 states allow high school students to volunteer as poll workers at locations directly on site or at a nearby school.

3. Practice voting

Create mock elections within your programs to engage and teach younger kids about the electoral process. These activities are a great way for youth to experience—and get excited about—exercising their rights!

Looking for more tips and support?  

Have other ideas for engaging youth in the election? Connect with me @ErinReuland

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