I saw this CNN’s League of First Time Voters video and it made me realize that maybe we don’t encourage our students enough about registering to vote. When I encouraged my students who were 18 and older to register to vote, they told me that their parents wouldn’t let them because they could be asked to serve on a jury. First of all, I really think that is the most selfish reason for not registering and also the biggest misunderstanding. In the past they used to do that, but I really feel that it is everyone’s civic duty to serve on a jury when asked. I understand that everyone is busy in their own lives and it is never going to be convenient to put your life on hold while you serve on a jury but it is still everyone’s duty to do so. In my state, they pull the jury pool from driver’s licenses now and not voter registration. Some of the older generation needs to know this so they can at least get out and register to vote. Of course, that should be another blog post.
I feel that everyone who meets the criteria to register to vote should get out and do this. Then when the time comes, they should go out and vote for every election when it happens. I have been to countries where they do not have this privilege and wish they did. Some people even risk their lives to take advantage of this privilege. When we don’t register to vote or go vote when we have the opportunity, it is like a slap in the face to the people in these countries who wish they could. I also feel like people who complain about taxes, the government, the elected officials and the laws need to be able to show their voter registration card before anyone will listen.
I am so disgusted when I see the percentage of voter turnout after an election. People are being killed in other countries when they even try to vote. We are taking for granted something that could possibly one day be taken away from us. We need to do a better job in schools in teaching about the voting process and the benefits to voting. I think we talk about politics and candidates but do we talk about actually going out to vote? Do we not explain that each vote counts and there have been some races where someone has won only by a few votes? Do we show a sample registration form and tell students how to fill it out? Do we get someone from the election commission to come speak to our classes? I actually talked to our county election commissioner who said he was more than willing to speak to classes but no one has ever asked him to. What a wasted resource! I think we need to start this conversation on the elementary school level and continue every year until the student graduates. This should not be a onetime conversation but should be ongoing throughout their school years.
If you are doing something in your classroom to encourage voting, please share with me in your comments. Others might be interested in learning about what you do too.