The United States of America has very specific laws that assist the Electoral College and the citizens alike throughout an election. One specific aspect that has been clearly outlined over the years is that persons under the age of 18 are not allowed to take part in active politics, but don’t let that stop your teen. This law has since locked out potential candidates from vying for office just because of age (Grossberg, 25), however, there are many other ways a young person can partake in American politics.
Learn about the candidates and the issues at hand.
It is necessary to learn about all the candidates who are running for office. Information about them is often provided on their websites. This would help in selecting which candidate to support really. Also knowing the issues well that are important to your teen will assist them in making a political decision on who or what to support. Students can also participate in peaceful local or national demonstrations.
Have a conversation with your elders.
The easiest way to pass on any information is by talking to other people and letting them know about what you think and what you support. Through this one act, young people can easily vouch for his or her preferred candidate and affect the possible outcome of an election.
Set up a phone bank.
A young non-voter can help a candidate that addresses issues that are most important to them by reaching out to potential voters via phone calls. Phone banks allow voters to be made aware of who to support and why, and it is a way to encouraged community members to get out and vote. Google “Phonebanking for (your candidate)” and get started. Here is an example of a phone bank for Bernie Sanders.
Help in the registration process and also getting voters to the polls.
A young person could also assist in ensuring that all the older citizens are registered to vote and also ensure that on the day of voting they are assisted in getting to the polls on time and also having a smooth process the voting. Have your teen check on older voters before the election as many send in absentee ballots. Make sure the older voter knows exactly who they are voting for.
Intern or volunteer for a campaign.
One of the most important ways a teen can get involved in local politics is by volunteering for campaign teams where your opinions are valued and where they need help reaching out to others. Interning in government offices also gives students exposure to how local government works (Grossberg, 86).
Raise money for your candidate.
Help your teen and others to get involved in activities such as bake sales, car wash or even put a lemonade stand at a basketball court to raise funds that would help support your candidate. Create posters for your fundraiser, create a goal for the amount of money you want to raise and go for it.
Use your unique skills to support your candidate.
A young person can use his acquired skills together with his talent to ensure that the candidate is effective. For instance, a teen who is taking graphic design in high school can come in handy with helping out designing posters which in most cases are used for campaigns, students can create a poll at school to see which politician is projected to win an election, or a teen who is taking multimedia production, can produce a video that speaks to teens and their parents. A teen with a big personality and who is outspoken can also use their voice to ensure a broader spectrum of voters are reached.
Get involved in school politics.
Even though a loophole in Kansas allowed six teens under the age of 18 to enter the gubernatorial race, teens under the legal age are not allowed to run for office. You can enter the race right before your 18th birthday in many districts but there are other political opportunities for young people use their leadership skills. In schools, there are clubs such as Community and Future Problem Solvers, debate clubs, TedEd Clubs, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Model United Nations, the Student Government Association (SGA) and more, just check with your school. Students can also run for office within their school government to have a voice. Some school boards even allow one student from the local high schools to be an appointed member of the school board to bring the students’ perspective to decisions and topics. Ask your principal about your child being that person. By getting involved in school politics, students get also chances to interact with local politicians who could mentor them further.
Identify states that allow young politicians.
For instance in New York, the state senator and the state assembly is open for any citizen who is 18-years-old or older, unlike other offices which require a minimum of either 25-years, 30-years or even 35-years to hold office. Ja’Mal Green is 22-years old and never thought he would run for office but he is a candidate for the position of mayor for the city of Chicago. Although there are limited opportunities for young politicians to assume office in America, the one thing that young adult that are candidates for office have in common is that they started community organizations or got involved in politics early in their youth.
Take classes in high school/college that are politically oriented.
A student can engage in politics by taking classes that would expose him or her to politics. By studying law or political science, the student can have the upper hand compared to his counterparts.
Black parents must keep being the change that they want to see and if you can’t be that then show your children how to lead the way. I would like to see more children being groomed for judgeships and politics to create positive change and equity for their communities. It begins with us.