One day you will be old enough to vote for president. Your vote counts! Learn about the complex system America uses to elect our President.
Who Can Vote?
The United Sates would have no federal, state or local government if the voters did not vote. This single fact should make you see why people make such a big deal out of elections!
No one should ever take voting for granted. After all, once upon a time, even in America, not everyone could vote. For a long time, black people and women were not allowed to vote but thank goodness that has changed!
In colonial times, people voted “Yea” (yes) or “Nay” (no) with their voices. Today, we go to a polling place, which may be a school or other public building to vote. We select our favorite candidates and vote using a ballot which we might fill in by hand, "punch" out our choices, or access using a touch-screen computer.
To be able to vote, you have to be eligible and then you have to register. But none of this matters if you do not get out of bed, get dressed, and go to the poll on Election Day and vote!
Can you vote?
If you can answer "yes" to ALL FIVE of these questions, then YOU can VOTE!
Are you at least 18 years of age?
Are you a citizen of the United States?
Are you a resident of this state?
Do you have a clear record (no felonies)?
Are you of “sound mind”?
Did you know
...the oldest president inaugurated was Ronald Reagan at age 69? The youngest was John F. Kennedy at age 43. Theodore Roosevelt, however, was the youngest man to become president. Theodore Roosevelt was 42 when he succeeded President McKinley, who had been assassinated.
Political parties are the main way that we elect people to public office in the United States. The purpose of any political party is to win elections and influence the government.
The Democratic Party is the biggest and oldest political party in America.
There are more than 72 million registered Democratic voters in the U.S. The Democratic Party was started in 1792.
The Democratic Party platform includes equal opportunity, protecting the environment, and healthcare for everyone.
Famous Democratic presidents include: Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama.
A donkey is the symbol of the Democratic Party.
Download your Free Democratic Party coloring page HERE!
The Republican Party is one of the major political parties in the United States.
There are more than 55 million registered Republican voters in the U.S.
Jackson, Michigan was the site of the first official Republican Party in 1854.
The Republican Party platform includes personal responsibility, free market, low taxes, and a strong national defense.
Free market means you should be able to buy, sell, and trade goods without too much government involvement.
The Republican Party is nicknamed the GOP, which stands for Grand Old Party.
Famous Republican presidents include: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and George Bush.
An elephant is the symbol of the Republican Party.
Download your Free Republican Party Coloring Page HERE.
The Green Party is one of the newest parties in the United States.
The Green Party believes that people are part of nature and we should take care of plants, animals, and the environment. They believe that all people have the right to be treated fairly and justly and that healthy people and a healthy environment are very important.
The Green Party also believes that we should think about how our actions today will affect future generations.
California has more registered Green Party Voters than any other state.
A sunflower is the symbol of the Green Party.
Download your Free Green Party Coloring Page HERE.
Important election words & phrases.
absentee ballot: used to vote when someone cannot physically be at the polling place on election day
amendment: a change to the U.S. Constitution
ballot: a sheet of paper, cardboard card, or electronic instrument used to cast a vote
bill: a proposed law
bipartisan: supported by both political parties
campaign: a race between candidates for elective office
caucus: a meeting of members of a political party, usually to appoint representatives to
coalition: an alliance of people or political parties
Congress: legislative body of the United States
conservative: someone preferring traditional values and views
constituent: a person represented by an elected official
delegate: one sent to act as a representative for a group
democracy: government in which the people hold the ruling power
enfranchise: to grant the vote to
lame duck: an elected official still in office who has not been reelected for another term, or who is resigning at the end of the term
grass roots: the common people at a local level
incumbent: someone currently holding an office
liberal: someone preferring change and social programs to help lower classes in society
nominate: to name as a candidate for an election
partisan: devoted to a cause or a party
petition: a written request signed by many people demanding an action from an authority or government
platform: a document stating the aims and principles of a political party
poll: the place where votes are cast and registered, or a survey of the public
primary: an election for choosing the candidates who will run in the final election
veto: to prevent a bill from becoming law