Get Out and Vote! Resources for Helping Youth and Everyday Citizens Understand the Importance of Voting

Dr. David Childs, D.D., Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University

League of Women Voters-

Why does our vote matter so much? With election season upon us in the United States conversations abound in terms of voting rights and the importance of voting. Below is an excerpt from a recent National Geographic article aimed at K-12 students articulating the importance of voting. It states:

“If you ever think that just one vote in a sea of millions cannot make much of a difference, consider some of the closest elections in U.S. history.

In 2000, Al Gore narrowly lost the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush. The election came down to a recount in Florida, where Bush had won the popular vote by such a small margin that it triggered an automatic recount and a Supreme Court case (Bush v. Gore). In the end, Bush won Florida by 0.009 percent of the votes cast in the state, or 537 votes. Had 600 more pro-Gore voters gone to the polls in Florida that November, there may have been an entirely different president from 2000–2008.

More recently, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by securing a close Electoral College win. Although the election did not come down to a handful of votes in one state, Trump’s votes in the Electoral College decided a tight race. Clinton had won the national popular vote by nearly three million votes, but the concentration of Trump voters in key districts in “swing” states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan helped seal enough electoral votes to win the presidency.

Your vote may not directly elect the president, but if your vote joins enough others in your voting district or county, your vote undoubtedly matters when it comes to electoral results. Most states have a “winner take all” system where the popular vote winner gets the state’s electoral votes. There are also local and state elections to consider. While presidential or other national elections usually get a significant voter turnout, local elections are typically decided by a much smaller group of voters.

A Portland State University study found that fewer than 15 percent of eligible voters were turning out to vote for mayors, council members, and other local offices. Low turnout means that important local issues are determined by a limited group of voters, making a single vote even more statistically meaningful.”

Voting Game for Students
Even with all of the important information from the National Geographic article educators still may struggle to stress to students the importance of voting and even the ends and outs of preparing one’s self to make informed decisions. I-Civics provides incredible resources for teachers and students alike for civic engagement. “Students and adults alike try your hand at I-Civics’ “Cast Your Vote” Game.

I-civics describes their game in this way:

“Election Day is coming, are you ready to vote? In “Cast Your Vote”, discover what it takes to become an informed voter — from knowing where you stand on important issues to uncovering what you need to know about candidates. In Cast Your Vote you can simulate the voting experience and: Learn about local elections. See political candidates discuss important issues in Town Hall debates Identify issues that matter to you and rate candidate responses.”

Other Voting Resources and Information for Students and Teachers
Voting Matters Activity
2023 Election Teaching Resources for State and Local Elections
Classroom Resources about Voting Rights
What works: Classroom polling ideas to engage students
Voting and Voices Classroom Resources
Voting and Elections | Resources for a Civil Classroom
The Election Collection
Teaching the Election Process: Lesson Plans and Resources
Teaching Resources for the US Elections

Please share what resources you find useful for your teaching.

We are open to feedback and discussion. If you see any typos or grammatical errors please feel free to email the author and editor at the address below:


  1. From this article, I learned that every vote holds significant power, especially in close elections where a small margin can determine the outcome. It highlights historical instances, like the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush, where just a few hundred votes made a crucial difference. It also stresses the importance of local elections, where voter turnout tends to be lower but where decisions directly impact communities. This showed me how my individual vote really can play a crucial role in helping to shape our government and society.

  2. This article had a lot of good information and was a very easy read! It really stood out to me when I read my vote may not directly elect the president, but if it joins enough others it undoubtedly matters in the long run. We should all use our freedom and right to vote to our advantage. It’s important to educate yourself on the issues at hand that way you can use your vote to the best of its ability.

  3. This article spoke to me directly because I am 19 and still have not registered to vote. I have little to no knowledge of politics and have always thought that my vote wouldn’t matter anyways. It’s interesting to read about these close poles that have made presidents win elections. I also enjoyed experiencing the simulation discussed in this article. My eyes are more open to voting and how my single vote is important.

  4. This article was both convicting and very informative. Being of registered age to vote and not doing the research on the canadite. I have voted, but at times, I have not been very educated on available parties. I think this would be a common theme among most voters in the US. However, one reason why I read this was because I can tend to think, “Oh my vote wouldn’t matter…”. If the majority of people think that, then it will have a great significance. A staggering piece of data was that only 15% of the eligible voter were tourning out for mayors, city council, and local officials. These are going to be more influential than a national election. We need to be informed and active voters.

  5. My age group consists of new adults that have new legal opportunities, such as voting. A lot of people my age are very uneducated on what, how, when, and why their vote matters. This article does a good job of putting it into perspective. A point in the article that stood out to me was the statistic that ‘fewer than 15 percent of eligible voters were turning out to vote for mayors, council members, and other local offices’. The article then goes to explain how low turnouts like these affect the trajectory of the elections, due to being decided by a limited group of voters. This is why it is up to us to stay informed, and to use our voice so that we can have a say in our legislation.

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