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POWER to the PEOPLE C itizens of the United States have a special privilege that many other people in the world dont have. In America, the people choose who runs the country. Citizens who are old enough to vote have the power to control their government. America is a representative democracy, also called a republica form of government in which the people rule themselves through elected representatives. U.S. citizens vote for people they believe can best represent their ideas about how the cou

HTS and RESPONSIBILITIES RIG RIGHTS Citizens of the United States have many rights. Some are listed in the U.S. Constitution, the document written in 1787 that set up our federal government. Other rights are from federal, state, or local laws. For example, citizens have the right to free speechto say and write whatever they think ask the government to change unfair laws privacy live peacefully and safely in their homes own property get a free education in public schools vote in government

e IMPORTANCE of VOTING Th oting is one of the most important rights and responsibilities that U.S. citizens have. About 175 million American citizens are qualified to vote. Unfortunately, many dont. They give up on a chance to choose leaders and representatives who will do things that are important to them. To be qualified to vote in a government election, a person must be at least 18 years old have been born in the United States, or have lived here at least five years and passed a citizenship

ELECTIONS, ELECTIONS, ELECTIONS merican voters have the chance to elect many different leaders and representatives, including the President of the United States. Every four years, a presidential election is held and it usually sparks a lot of interest from voters. But citizens have other chances to cast votes for representatives who they feel can make a difference in their lives. A Voters in each state elect two people to serve in the U.S. Senate. Senators are elected for sixyear terms. Voter

WHY VOTE BEFORE AFTER obody can force a citizen to vote. But many citizens do vote, because voting lets them tell the government what they want it to do. If citizens think theyre paying too many taxes, they can vote for a person who promises to lower taxes. If citizens want more parks to play in, they can vote for someone who promises to spend more government money to build and maintain parks. Before citizens vote, its important for them to find out about problems facing the nation or their c

EVERY VOTE COUNTS ts also important for citizens to know how to work the voting machines or to mark the ballots theyll be using when they vote, so that their votes will be counted. Why is that so important Because EVERY VOTE COUNTS An election might be decided by a single vote and history would be changed because a person got...or lost...that one vote Here are some important events in U.S. history that were decided by just a few votes. I Richard Nixon, not John F. Kennedy, would have become P

PICKING CANDIDATES olitical parties play an important role in most American elections. A political party is a group of people who feel the same way about what is best for the country. Each party chooses candidates to run for different jobs. These candidates share the partys views on important topics, such as education, crime, healthcare, or the environment. The parties run campaigns to try to convince voters to choose their candidates. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are the oldest

On the CAMPAIGN TRAIL nce the candidates are chosen, the official campaign begins. Candidates try to get the word out to voters explaining how they feel about the issues and how theyll solve problems facing the government. They often make campaign promises to try to convince people to vote for them, such as, If Im elected, Ill make sure everyone in America has healthcare To get their message out, candidates give speeches send voters information in the mail make TV and radio commercials hold

MESSAGES and MONEY C andidates spend a lot of money to try to get elected. The money comes from people and groups who want the candidate to win, and from special election funds from the government. The amount of money that people and groups can give is limited by law. But some groups try to raise as much money as they can. Why do politicians need so much money They need it so they can travel around and get their message to the voters, and for newspaper, radio, and TV ads. A oneminute TV ad ca

INFLUENCING OTHERS C itizens often work together to convince others to vote for their candidate. That way, its more likely that their candidate will win the election. There are many ways citizens do this. They write letters to newspapers explaining why its a good idea for others to vote for the candidate they support. They make posters and display them where other voters will see them. They attend speeches their candidate makes to show their support for him or her. They talk to other citizens

ELECTION DAY n Election Day, citizens go to special places to vote. These polling places, or polls, are set up in buildings such as libraries or schools. To cast their votes, citizens may pull levers on voting machines, fill in bubbles on ballots for optical scanning, touch computer screens, punch holes in ballot cards, or write on paper ballots. No matter which kind of ballot is used, its a secret ballot. No one knows for whom any other citizen votes, so no one can force a person to vote for a

AFTER the ELECTION ometimes the candidate that many citizens think is best for the job doesnt win. That doesnt mean those citizens have to give up. They can still affect the decisions the elected officials will make. Government officials pay attention to what citizens tell them. These officials know they have to keep as many citizens as possible happy if they hope to be elected again Here are some of the ways citizens try to influence the decisions that elected officials make. They write letter

MAKING CHOICES ou cant vote in a government election until youre 18. But youll have lots of chances before that to vote for things that affect your life. Maybe your school has elections to choose representatives from each grade. Maybe you belong to a team or club for which youll choose a new president. You may even vote on a name for a new family pet or where to go on your family vacation Before you cast your vote, you must decide which choice will be best for you, your class, your team, or your

ANDIDATES and QUALITIES C I f youre voting, youll want to learn some things about the people asking you to vote for them. Youll want to know if a candidate has good character if a candidate has any experience to prove he or she might do a good job if the things that are important to you are also important to the candidate what the candidate plans to do if elected. YOU DECIDE What qualities would you want an elected official to have Circle the words in the ingredients below that describ

KE A DIFFERENCE NOW MA Y ou may not be able to vote in a government election for a few years, but you can still make a difference. How You can encourage your parents and other adults to vote Keep your eyes and ears open. Find out when there are federal, state, or local elections in your community. Then ask the adults in your life what they think about the candidates and issues in each campaign. Discuss whats going might even be able to convince them to vote the way you would if you c

SHOW WHAT YOU KNOW 1 2 3 4 5 Read each clue and complete the crossword puzzle. 6 10 7 8 11 9 12 2. If you wont be in town on Election Day, you can cast this kind of ballot. 3. When most federal and state elections are held. 4. Highest elected official in the United States. 7. You must be one of these in order to vote in government elections. 8. The President, U.S. Senators, and U.S. Representatives are all part of this level of government. 9. When candidates meet each other to discuss the

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