Voting is a right we’re lucky to have, but it’s also one that not everyone takes advantage of. That’s why it’s important to encourage young people to vote so they can use this right and make their voices heard. Young people are often too busy with school, work and other activities to participate in elections or referendums; however, if we want them to engage in democracy as adults, we need to help them get started now.
Help young people understand what is at stake
Help young people understand what is at stake by explaining that voting is a right, not a privilege. Show them why they should care about voting and how it can make a difference in their lives now and in the future.
Make sure young people know where they can get accurate information
Have a conversation with young people about what they know about the election so far. If they’re aware of candidates and issues, ask if they’ve gotten their information from social media or a trustworthy source.
Explain how to find trustworthy sources. For example, you can direct them to the Election Commission’s website, which provides official information on candidates and issues in Virginia’s elections (and has a polling place locator).
Help young people register to vote and talk to them about the process
Registering to vote is free, easy, quick and important. It’s easy online or in person at a voting office or city/county/state offices. You can also mail in the registration form if you prefer that method.
Registering to vote is confidential—no one will see your information except election officials who need it for administration of elections.
You can motivate someone to vote by listening to them and having a conversation
You can’t force young people to vote. But you can encourage them to participate by listening and having a conversation.
Ask questions. If a young person is talking about something they care about, let them know you’re listening and ask questions about their perspective. Ask open-ended questions like “how do you feel about that?” Or “why do you think that’s important?” You may be surprised at what they have to say!
Encourage them to ask questions too! Young people are often curious about things that adults don’t even consider asking; it’s up to us as mentors and educators (or however else we choose) to help make sure these conversations happen safely so everyone feels heard no matter where they sit in life.
It’s important that we as adults do our best to teach young people about the importance of voting, and how they can make a difference by doing so. We also need to make sure they know where they can get accurate information, register to vote if they haven’t already done so, and understand why it is important for them to make an informed decision when deciding who “gets their vote” on election day.