“The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society and we’ve got to use it.” –Congressman John Lewis
Every day, throughout this nation and overseas, PTA members are hard at work, striving to better the lives of all children. Collectively, our non-partisan voices have made a positive impact nationwide.
Just as we speak up for children through our advocacy work, we also need to exercise the privilege given to every U.S. citizen—the right to vote. Not only should we vote, we need to motivate the people in our schools and communities to vote.
As child advocates, we need to engage, inform and educate our membership on the issues facing our children and education on the ballot today. We need to provide them with the tools they need to vote intelligently at the ballot box.
Elections can have consequences to our mission and we need to make sure our elected officials will work to serve our children well.
So, how can PTA members get involved in non-partisan civic activities? There are a several ways for PTAs to engage their membership as Election Day approaches.
View the list of civic engagement activities your PTA can do as a nonprofit, non-partisan organization below and check out our Election Guide for more options.
- Organize voter registration drives (check state and local laws)
- Host candidate forums
- Work with other organizations like the League of Women Voters to distribute information on state and local issues that may be on the ballot
- Hold or participate in a Mock Student/Parent Election on Nov. 3
- Encourage 18-year-old students to vote and help them register, and plan a trip to the polls together
- Ask your membership to familiarize themselves with the candidates and issues
- Help members identify the location of their polling place and its hours of operation
- Inform parents and families of the proper identification and additional information they need to bring with them to the polls in order to vote in your state
- Provide information to your school community about alternative ways to vote in your state (absentee, early voting, vote-by-mail)
Voter turnout in the United States has steadily declined. A Pew Research Center study shows that in 2012 the U.S. trailed most developed countries in voter turnout, coming in at number 27 with a 53.6% voter turnout. Often people do not vote because of time constraints, lack of information about the process or because they think that their vote will not matter.
Have your PTA members mentioned that they feel their vote does not make a difference? Remind them that elections have been won by just one vote—and in the not-too-distant past, 537 votes made the difference in a presidential election.
If we as PTA members do not speak up for all children, who will? Make a difference in the lives of children. VOTE on Nov. 8 and encourage all child advocates to cast their ballots.
As you head to the polls, remember these wise words from the Dalai Lama, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
Latha Krishnaiyer is the past president of Florida PTA and a current National PTA bylaws and policy committee member.