How Voting Works: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

One of your greatest rights as an American citizen is the right to vote. Come learn the basics of the voting process, with a focus on the who, what, when, where, why and how.

What Is Voting?

Your class is going to adopt a classroom pet - woohoo! But there is one problem - some of the students would like a hamster, while the other students want a snake. What could your teacher do to solve this dilemma?

She could have the class take a vote. This means that every student would get to say whether they would like a hamster or a snake. The teacher would then count up the votes and the majority would rule. This means that whichever classroom pet got the most votes would win.

Voting is a great way to allow everyone the opportunity to take part in decision making, and it takes place all over the world in a variety of situations. The most common forum for voting is in political elections, such as the vote for class president, town mayor or even the president of the United States.

Who Can Vote?

In informal situations, like voting for a classroom pet, anyone can vote. However, when it comes to being able to vote in federal and state elections, voting is not open to everyone. You have to meet a few requirements:

  • You must be a citizen of the United States
  • You must be a legal adult, meaning you are at least 18 years old
  • You must have registered to vote

Even Barack Obama votes!

Something that is great about the United States is that anyone, as long as they meet the legal requirements, can vote. This hasn't always been the case. Women did not gain the right to vote until 1920, and it was not until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that it finally became illegal to keep African Americans from voting.

Women fighting for the right to vote

When Can You Vote?

Did you know that only about 58% of eligible voters voted in the 2016 presidential election? It is important to exercise your right to vote, and one of the most important things you need to know is when the election takes place. In the United States, Election Day is on the first Tuesday after November 1st. Presidential elections occur every four years, while voting for Congress (Senators and Representatives) occurs every two years.

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