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A stunning amount of Americans never register to vote. Many of those that do register never actually exercise that right. There are many reasons why this happens and excuses people use to explain away their lack of contributing to the electoral process. However, the apparent apathy creates situations where the best interests of communities are not met. People must have some involvement in the development of policies that affect their lives. The only way to achieve this is through voting. Creating a generation of committed voters and politically active citizens requires getting children involved in the political process at an early age.

#1. Teach them the process.

Encourage their teachers and school system to offer an election each year that allows children to vote for local leaders and legislation currently on the ballot. This teaches children how easy it is to learn the facts and make their own choice. Parents should also encourage children to run for their student council to learn more about campaigning and becoming a leader as well as a voter.

#2. Let them see government in action.

Take children to the polls when voting or visit the state house when the senate is in session. Go to political speeches and debates or attend a rally or a protest. Do not force them to stand on the sidelines. Talk to people involved in these events and find out why they are so passionate about their causes.

#3. Explain why it matters.

Children are often very interested in many issues when they are young. Environmental protection, animal rights and children’s rights are just some of the important topics that many children worry about. Discuss how good leaders promote necessary changes and that voting is the only way to get those leaders in place.

#4. Educate them on the past.

Classroom education provides only a certain level of inspiration. Take children directly to the places where historic actions took place. Visit the site of the Boston Tea Party, go to Washington and travel to Gettysburg. Places like Independence Hall and Ellis Island are poignant reminders of how much effort it has taken to create the country that stands today. Children are more likely to become socially active when they understand that great achievements do not just happen spontaneously.

#5. Be a role model.

Parents that vote are more likely to have children that vote. Remain involved in local and national elections and vote every time. Take children along and explain how it happens and why it personally matters. Show that it is important and not a burden.

Too often the people that fail to vote are the ones that need representation the most. If everyone contributed to the process it would lead to changes that could better benefit a larger variety of people in the country. Raising voters is one of the most important legacies all parents can pass on to their country.