Getting Students Out to Vote! Lessons in Youth Civic Participation

By Curt Melo-

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

One of the most important rights people have in a Democracy is the right to vote in a free and fair election. However, unfortunately many people do not exercise their right to vote in the US. One of the primary reasons for people not voting is a lack of education or understanding of the process. Some people may not realize they have to register to vote first. Others may not know (Especially during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic) that they can vote early and avoid the crowds. Recently, there is a fear that mail in votes will not get to the polls in time for election day. But people may not realize that they can vote weeks earlier than the general election date. If citizens want to vote early through the mail they may not realize they have to request a ballot. But these reasons are all due to a lack of civic education.

One of the original purposes of social studies classrooms in the US (Which dates back to the mid 1800’s) was to educate citizens on their rights and responsibilities in a democracy. In this way, social studies teachers should design and develop curricula that will take students through the steps required to vote successfully when they are of voting age. In a high school senior level American government class many students are already old enough to vote, they just may not know the process or even deem it important. Below you will find lesson plans and activities surrounding voting for classroom use. 

Lesson Plans and Resources
Lesson Plan: To Vote or Not to Vote
Voting! What’s It All About?
Voting and Elections: Resources for a Civil Classroom
Voting Matters Activity
Lesson Plan: How to Vote and Why it Matters
Informed Voter Education in the Classroom
Elections: Lesson Plan
Elections and Civics Lesson Plan
Service-Learning Toolkit for Voting Engagement


  1. This is an extremely essential issue for children to learn about in school, particularly at the high school level, when pupils are of voting age. Many people do not vote because they are unaware of the issues. Students will have a better grasp of why voting is so essential and what they’ll do to participate if this is taught in schools.

  2. To be honest, growing up I didn’t think that you needed to register to vote, but once you turn 18 you just automatically have the right. Thankfully, a few years before I was legally allowed to vote, I found out you must register. Looking back it makes me feel stupid but people are always learning. If someone is allowed to vote, I think they should do it. No matter the party, you have a right to vote so use that right.

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