I Voted Today: Reflections After an Election with Resources for Civic Education

I Voted Sticker- https://www.officesmartlabels.com/Round-I-Voted-Today-Sticker-p/o-ofssps559.htm

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

One of the most important aspects of being a citizen in a democracy is the right to vote. The U.S. is a representative democracy, and therefore citizens of the US have the power to vote out individuals that they feel no longer represent their interests or convictions. As we have mentioned in previous articles, many people (Such as African Americans and women) have sacrificed their lives to earn the right to vote. Thus, getting out to the polls and exercising our God-given right to vote once a year is the least we can do. However, in order to vote effectively we must be informed citizens. That is, when preparing to cast votes we should educate ourselves about the candidates and decide which candidates align with our convictions and can furthermore work to bring about the most good to our society.

Even after elections have come and gone (Perhaps the results did not turn out the way we had hoped) there is still plenty of work to be done in a Democratic society besides voting. Citizens can decide to run for offices themselves in upcoming elections or contests in the following year. People can also write letters to congress, become involved in their local PTA, participate in peaceful protests or attend city council meetings regularly and provide input on key issues.  With this in mind, it is very important for teachers to offer lessons and ideas that teach students the complexities of civics and citizenship in a modern democracy. Below we have provided some tools and ideas to do just that.

I-Civics- Educational Website and Resources
https://www.icivics.org/
I-Civics (Created by Judge Sandra O’Connor) was created and designed to help engage students in meaningful civic learning. The purpose of the organization and the website is provide teachers well-written, inventive, and free resources that enhance their practice and inspire their classrooms. Here are some other from I-Civics teachers can use to teach about civics.

“Argument War” I-Civics Games
https://www.icivics.org/games/argument-wars
In Argument War students hone their persuasive abilities by arguing a real Supreme Court case. The other lawyer from the case serves as their competition. The student that uses the strongest arguments for the case wins!

Court Quest
https://www.icivics.org/games/court-quest
“In Court Quest, people from around the country need the participants help to navigate our court system. Listen carefully to each case, so you can guide them to the right place!”

Do I have a Right?
https://www.icivics.org/games/do-i-have-right
Do I Have A Right?, is a video game that allows players to run their own firm of lawyers who specialize in constitutional law. Players get to decide whether potential clients “have a right, match them with the best lawyer, and win the case. The more clients you serve and the more cases you win, the faster your law firm grows.”

13 Comments

  1. It is most certainly important for everyone to cast their vote in both local and national elections. Whehter or not you agree with the outcomes of recent elections, it is clear that America has been galvanized into politics, and that is a great thing; especially for young voters who historically turned out in little numbers across the board. Being involved is key to the changes we seek as citizens and as a community.

  2. Voting in the U.S. is definitely of the upmost importance but I think it is overlooked in public education. The system of passing laws and the value of voting is taught but how to vote is not. This could easily be done in a social studies class and could contain info on researching certain candidates rather than voting without this info.

  3. Voting is one of the most important privileges a citizen of the United States has. Bringing light to that fact is a very important lesson to teach in the classroom. I believe we need educate the youth of our nation to show how the whole voting system works, so that in turn, they can make good decisions for our country on their own and be confident with the process of exercising their earned rights.

  4. I think voting is such an important thing and every US citizen should use their right to vote. Up until about 100 years ago, I ( a female) was not allowed to vote. Its crazy thinking about how much has changed in just a 100 years. When an election rolls around I make sure I know about both of my candidates and what the stand for and what they want to happen if they are in charge. I want to make sure in my future classroom I educate students on why voting is so important. I want them to know about everyone who fought for women to vote and African Americans. My students will have a right as American citizens to vote and when they are old enough I want them to use their right. My future students will get a say in what happens in their state and country when they turn 18. Student just need to educated on the importance of voting.

  5. I believe that everyone should use there right to vote. In an election like the one on Tuesday every vote counted, there is more of an impact per vote than in a national election. I’m not saying that votes don’t count in a national election, what I’m trying to say is that when it comes to an election that will impact the state or the city the person lives in, it will have a greater impact of the person’s life. According to the stats from the last election on Tuesday it’s universities that had a huge impact on how the election went. Students getting out and using their votes and speaking up really make an impact and change.

  6. This article brought attention to the RIGHT that is to have the ability to vote. Yeah I get it, maybe the democratic primaries are not all that exciting, and with the “real” election more than a year away, why are we so focused on this little election. The fact of the matter is that there is a lot more that goes into this election. If you watch the news or keep up with politics even the slightest you found a few things to be very interesting. Virginia and Kentucky which are always red states swung democratic and both now have a democratic governor in charge. I think this is going to swing a lot of momentum come the presidential election. Also, lots of levys were passed here in the tristate areas, allocating more tax dollars to school systems. There is plenty of reason to go vote.

  7. Personally, I have noticed that many college students do not often vote. Some reasons I have heard for not voting are: not keeping up with politics due to time constraints or lack of interest, feeling overwhelmed by the wealth of information and not knowing what is reliable and what isn’t, feeling overwhelmed by the importance of the task, uncertainty about what their personal stance is on certain issues, hearing too many different opinions, or sometimes, simply, a lack of interest overall. I understand these issues but still consider voting to be very important. I noticed in my education that teachers talk less and less about the importance of voting after high school. From personal experience, I feel that college age students are the least likely age group to vote and I feel that college educators could help to change that if they talked as much about voting to their students as high school teachers do with theirs.

  8. I have never considered myself an incredibly political person, but because I understand the amazing privilege we have be able to vote in America, I have hardly disregarded the blessing altogether. Because of this, I have always tried to keep myself educated about what is going on in the political world and try to discuss recent events with friends and coworkers to help keep an open mind to all ideas. However, I hardly remember any of this being discussed with me in high school. I understand in your first years you are not able to vote, but honestly I still do not see that as a good enough excuse to avoid the topic altogether. Sure maybe school do not want to risk the fights which usually come from political debate, but still, emphasizing the freedom to vote and let your voice be heard by enlisting in the activities mentioned above is something I still think should be introduced in the classroom. The sooner students begin to understand how the real world operates, the better.

  9. I believe voting is a very serious thing that many people who are younger do not take advantage of. It is so important to voice how you feel through a ballot and some people do not see this importance. I, being part of the younger generation, tend to vote in the elections, but go off what my parents say. I listen to what they say a candidate’s values are instead of researching myself because their opinions can easily be bias. However, we do all hold very similar values. I was unaware that any citizen could run for office? I am not too sure how the whole process at all is held.

  10. As Americans we are so lucky and privileged to have the right to vote. Women and African Americans struggled for years for the right to vote, yet so many of us today that that right for granted. Many people feel like they are not educated enough on politics to vote. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves and decide who to vote for, but I think as teachers we need to start early with children and have mock elections. We could have them practice researching fellow classmates and decide who to vote for. As Americans we need to practice our right to vote.

  11. I believe that a lot of people forget that there are things that you can do to better the Democratic society other than just voting. When voting doesn’t go our way sometimes we just shut down because we don’t believe our voice was heard. There are a lot of ways to get your voice out there so use that energy to get your voice out there even if voting didn’t go in your favor. Also just because voting did not go your way once or a couple of times don’t give up on voting because your voice matters.

  12. Voting is necessary for a democracy to function correctly, but unfortunately civic participation is not a priority for many Americans. This past Kentucky election was one of the most contested elections of my life time, however only a little over 25% of KY voters voted in the governors election. Have people lost their sense of urgency and understanding of the importance of voting? Are people misinformed or misguided so they feel their does not count or know who to vote for?

    I would like to know the statistics of voters that vote for their party versus the voters that vote for the candidate that follows their views closer. I am a registered Republican voter, however I voted for Andy Beshear. Do many others actually do this or do they just follow their party blindly?

  13. A great freedom in America is having the right to vote.  We are not a direct democracy, but a representative democracy.  Meaning that we democratically elect people to serve as representatives in our executive branch.  After two, four, or six years, if we are unhappy with the job our representatives are doing, we the constituents have the power to vote them out.  It is our duty to do the small task to research the candidates and have an informed opinion.  As a social studies teacher, I think our main duty is to make our students better citizens, and better voters.  We can make them better citizens by informing them on the history of our nation, and how elections of certain individuals have led to the destruction or success of nations across the world.  We as teachers should strongly consider how our presentation of the past can affect an entire generation of students.  Even if that means telling our students how America has not always been the good guy, we must know our past faults to create a better future.  

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