Not choosing sides, just choosing to be educated!
Facebook statuses, twitter feeds, and the television are being inundated with political messages. I can only imagine how confusing it is to children if I can hardly understand what is going on. While I prefer to maintain a bit quieter about politics in general, I do feel that it is extremely important for everyone that is able to vote to do so, and I feel that it is even more important that those who are voting be educated on the process and the candidates in general. I try to keep myself educated on all the issues, particularly those that are important to me, which is hard to do with all of the conflicting information that is out there.
At the core of being educated about your voting choices is knowing the basics about our Nation and the election process. Here are a couple great resources to help you educate yourself and your children on the importance of voting, and how to do it!
FIRST THINGS FIRST: REGISTRATION AND IMPORTANT INFO
The deadline for registering to vote for the Nov. 6, 2012, election is Tuesday, Oct. 9. You can register to vote in the 2012 election as well as find answers to all of your Colorado voter registration questions HERE. If you are already registered to vote, you can also look on the site to make sure all of your information is correct and if you are set up for mail-in voting. Once you register to vote, or when you are checking your information, you will also see a list of polling places where you will be able to vote.
If you don't want to deal with the polls on Election Day, choose mail-in voting! Mail-in ballots will be mailed beginning 22 days before an election. Take time to fill out your ballot in the comfort of your own home and then simply send it in!
Before you vote, educate yourself in any manner you can. Be sure that you thoroughly read through the pamphlets that are sent to you regarding the different proposals (the official phamplet, not the political ads. I don't put a lot of stock in those.) Listen to the debates, attend one of the Colorado Ballot Issues Events at the Smoky Hill Library (Sept. 15,19 and 22), watch the news specials on the fact/fiction of the political ads, and do your research on each side.
The first presidential debate is being held in Colorado on October 3rd at the University of Denver from 7:00pm-8:30pm. As a side note, this is causing the Colorado Department of Transportation to close a six-mile stretch of the interstate in both directions from Santa Fe Dr to Hampden Avenue from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The lightrail will be running as normal.
Another VERY important aspect to make sure you read up on is the HealthCare Act. I have talked with a few people recently that were leaning a certain way because of how they felt some of their friends or family members would be affected by the act, and were actually incorrect in what they thought. A great website to learn more about the Act is http://www.healthcare.gov/law/full/. After you read through it, ask different groups of people that you know have educated themselves on how it will affect them. Ask families with members that have special needs, ask people on Medicare, ask small business and those who currently don't have health care. Some of these people already have some idea of a few changes that will be affecting them fairly soon.
Join Ben Franklin and learn all about his life, inventions and our Government! The website is broken down into different sections for various age groups.
GRADES 3-5, 6-8 AND 9-12
PARENTS AND TEACHERS
The first presidential debate of 2012 will take place right here in Denver—at the University of Denver—on Wednesday, Oct. 3. To celebrate the occasion, Children’s Hospital Colorado will host a presidential debate watch party—designed especially for teens!
A nonpartisan event, the debate watch party will give teens an opportunity to watch the debate alongside adult mentors who can help them thoughtfully review the debate in real-time. It will focus on educating teens about the election process, teaching them that their voice matters and helping them to recognize that they can influence change by voting. We will emphasize the importance of learning about the issues and how the voting process works now so that those who are too young to vote will be prepared when they are able to vote in 2016, and those of voting age will be encouraged to vote.
Teens will have a chance to ask questions and express their opinions on various issues discussed in the debate during participant-led “commercial-break” conversations, and they will be able to weigh in with their “votes” on issues using Children’s Colorado’s interactive polling capabilities throughout the event. The evening will also include games before and during the debate, along with plenty of food and refreshments.
The important thing is to vote, and make educated and well-informed choices when you put that pencil to the paper!