Engaging Voters

Tenth graders analyzed the electoral process and its challenges as part of a voter education unit in their Civics classes. With an election fast approaching, their teachers invited the students to engage in a service-learning project that would help address problems they had identified with voter participation and education.

The students researched the historical expansion of voting rights in the U.S. and joined in a voter education workshop with Town staff and Board of Education candidates—discussing the voter registration process, the importance of an informed citizenry, and current statistics on voter participation.

The workshop experience, combined with background reading, prepared students to research and outline possible solutions. Among the four Civics classes, the students generated an expansive list of potential projects (from elementary school education, to public service ads and a ‘get out the vote’ parade to a community blog). They then voted on the most feasible choices and settled on 2-3 smaller projects per class, with each student choosing which project group they joined.

Each group then developed its own action plan, goals and objectives—documenting their progress on charts and in journals. Some students, for example, taught fourth graders about voting through skits and role-plays while others did a mock election and a voter registration drive in the high school.

Feedback from partners and measuring local voter turnout at the election helped students gauge their success. Through their efforts, the students gained a deeper appreciation of how critical an informed and engaged citizenry is in a constitutional democracy.