By now you’ve probably read the news, heard the commercials, or seen the posters of candidates around your town – or campus- advocating for, well, something. Now it’s your turn to give your opinion–and vote.
While today’s election day won’t be choosing the next U.S. President (that’s next year), off-year elections (like today’s), elect the local politicians who can directly shape your city, your school, and your neighborhood. If you’re over 18, the best way to get involved, of course, is to vote – or register to vote for next time. Find out more about voting and registering in your state here.)
But whether or not you’re voting today, Election Day also serves as a reminder to get involved in our communities. America is most certainly not run by politicians alone. As citizens, we also have the power to shape our neighborhoods, and our world, for the better. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Learn and teach about the election. Familiarizing yourself and your friends about democracy and the voting process can (surprisingly) be lots of fun. Check out The New York Times’ list of 10 creative ways to teach about the election.
- Improve the Election Process: Americans Elect is a cool new organization with some radical, non-partisan ideas about how we might change the election process for the better. Learn how to get involved here.
- Attend a community board meeting. Every town – and often neighborhood — has a community board which hold meetings where they debate and decide on issues that are important to the neighborhood. Run by local volunteers, many of these meetings are open to the public. Find out when your neighborhood’s next board meeting is and check it out!
- Write a letter! What’s on your mind? Write to your local congress person to let them know what’s important to you. Or, check out Change.org, an amazing online petitioning organization that allows anyone to sign or start a petition. People around the world have used Change.org to help foster human rights. Will your petition be next?
- Thank a city employee. City employees — like the bus drivers, mail people, public school teachers, and garbage/recycling collectors – keep our towns and cities running. At the risk of sounding all Mr. Rogers-like, find out who these “people in your neighborhood” are, and remember to thank them for the work they do every day.
- Remember: you can help make a difference in your own community.