After much campaigning, debating, stumping, and arguing, Americans everywhere went to the polls and voiced their opinions with their ballots. It was a long, difficult road that didn’t end the way everyone wanted it to, at least for less than half the people. With the recent release of the election results, there is simply no way to ease the anxiety surrounding the outcome for many. So what happens when the person you were pulling for isn’t serving for the next 2-4 years? What can you do about it?
Though you yourself may not be old enough to vote in this presidential election, there are still things you can do to help move the country in a direction you believe we should be going. Here are a few things to keep in mind as we move forward through the election and instatement process:
Call your state representatives and senators
Though you are not able to vote, and will likely be stuck with the elected candidate for four years, you can still help have a say in what happens by writing to or calling your state representatives, congressmen, and senators.
One important step in knowing who to contact is knowing who represents you, which is determined by where you live and what seats are filled. An easy way to find these answers is by looking at your local Board of Elections (putnamboe.com). Where your parents or guardians vote, which is based on where you live, determines what districts you are in and who the representatives for those districts are. The Putnam County Board of Elections includes a list of these districts and representatives, which makes finding who to contact simple.
Knowing who your elected officials are, locally and statewide, is a great starting point in getting involved.
We’ve seen a lot of protests in the past few months from all over the political spectrum and for a variety of issues. If you feel strongly enough about something you believe needs to happen or change, organizing a protest with your peers in your town is a fantastic and historically patriotic way to show the government and media what you believe.
Organizing a protest can be as simple as finding your local courthouse and having a gathering there. Once you have a purpose for your protest, you should be able to reach out to your local sheriff’s department to check if a permit is needed. Here are some simple steps you can take:
Find a cause
Set a time and date, preferably an end time as well
Find a location, and check with your local police department to see if a permit is needed – the police department might provide you with some information and police presence if necessary
Set safety guidelines, and have a plan
Spread the word!!!
Spreading the word for events has been made easy with social media. Creating a Facebook page/event can draw a lot of attention and be a great way to keep track of the number of people expected. If a lot of people are expected to attend, the easiest way to ensure safety is to have a plan. Having set “de-escalators” to be on the lookout is a great way to create a safe environment.
Reaching out to local news outlets can also be very beneficial for the cause. Typically, if the event you’ve planned is believed to have a large turnout, local newspapers may be planning to attend and cover the protest. Otherwise, it is easy to get in touch with reporters and inform them of the event. Sending your own writing about the protest to local news outlets is another way to get the word out.
Protests can be a great way to bring your community together and to have your voice heard.
Get involved locally, and work your way up
The most immediate impact you can have in government is to contact your local government officials, learn about them, and pay attention to what they do. When the time comes and you are old enough to vote in elections, it will be much easier to figure out who you’re voting for. You can be the reason that local change begins to happen sooner.
Locally, there are many organizations aimed at young voters and their political party. Through these organizations, such as “Putnam County Young Democrats” (putnamyoungdems.com) and “Putnam County Young Republicans” (www.putnamyr.com), it is very easy to become more involved in the election by volunteering for the candidates you favor. Volunteering opportunities include canvassing, phone-banking, letter-writing, etc. Some local candidates even offer internships for you to gain more experience. Volunteering is made easy even if you’re unable to vote.
Through these organizations, many networking opportunities will present themselves. With a little hard work, you can become more aware and involved in things happening locally and affect change for the better.