How to Encourage Students to Vote and Where to Send Them
Civics education is critical for students, especially those who are old enough to vote. Here are some tips to help your students become active citizens.
Young people will play a pivotal role in the upcoming election cycle—by going to rallies, by marching for a cause, by canvassing for candidates, and by voting. And in many U.S. states, voting is easier than ever for young people.
Voters throughout the U.S. must be age 18 or older to cast a ballot, but 14 states and the District of Columbia now allow young people to pre-register as young as age 16. Other states let 17-year-olds pre-register. This means that for millions of young people, the voting process will be a bit more streamlined and simplified once they turn 18.
These early registration efforts have paid off. In the 2018 midterm elections, turnout among voters ages 18-29 increased about 10% nationwide compared to 2014, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. The youth turnout was the highest it’s been for the last 25 years.
Here are some resources for young people—and their teachers and families—interested in youth voting:
- National Conference for State Legislatures has information about state voter age requirements and pre-registration generally.
- USA.gov provides a database of state and local election offices, as well as links to online voter registration for 37 states and the District of Columbia.
- Rock the Vote provides online registration for some states, information about voting rights, and other election resources aimed at young people.
- When We All Vote is former First Lady Michelle Obama’s nonpartisan initiative to increase civic engagement.
Democracy is healthier when more people vote. But elections and voter registration drives can also play a role in the classroom, not just in civics classes but history, literature, economics, and other subjects. Check out the nonpartisan, nonprofit Center for Civic Education for tips and resources for teachers. The National Archives also offers great resources for educators.
Want to learn more? Here are some recent XQ blogs on voting and civic engagement:
- Keeping voting rights front and center in the classroom
- 99 years later: the complicated history of the 19th amendment
- So, what does a school board do, anyway?
- Seven quotes from March for Our Lives