In a few years, you will be 18-years-old and able to vote. It is also a presidential election year, and a year in which Colorado chooses a new U.S. Senator, and all the seats we hold in the House of Representatives are on the ballot as well. In American history, women and 18-year-olds have not always had the right to vote (or run as a candidate for office), but now they do, and you will. It will not only be your right to vote, but a wonderful way to honor the women who fought for our right to vote in every election. Voting is also the best (and easiest) way to tell the government where you stand on the issues and whom you think is best able to make decisions that will affect you and your sister Girl Scouts. In the Senior Behind the Ballot badge, we will explore the way people get elected to office, and the importance of voting both here at home and around the world.
Step One: Find out more about elections
Elections are the process by which we decide who our leaders are and the values we want the government to follow. Learn the basics of our elections by doing one or more of the following activities.
Compare political platforms. A political platform is the list of values and priorities each political party holds to. Compare the platforms of two of our early political parties, such as the Federalists, the Anti-Federalists, or the Whigs. Now, select two parties (there are more than just Democrats and Republicans) from a recent election and compare their platforms. What is the same? What is different? How have the values and priorities changed over the years? Design a chart or table to show the differences and similarities, and share it with your Girl Scout troop, on the GSCO Blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Twitter and Instagram users should also use #GSColo.
Create an Election Flow Chart. Find out what happens from the day a candidate declares their candidacy, all the way to Election Day. Focus on the 2018 national election and chart one campaign from the date of declaration to Election Day. You can pick a candidate running for the House of Representatives for your district, or another district of Colorado, or in another state, or a candidate running for the Senate. If the candidate you are researching won, chart when they took office, what their swearing in ceremony looked like, and what they did in between the election and the ceremony. How is power transferred from the incumbent to the newly elected official (if your candidate is new to their post)?
Compare local, state, and national elections. Research the basic process for local, state, and national elections. For one, you might be choosing a member of the school board to represent your neighborhood, in another, your governor or attorney general, and for another, the president or a senator. Look at how often each position is elected. What are the differences and similarities between each three levels of elections? Do the local or statewide elections have primaries? What are the differences between primaries and general elections? Make a chart for your research and share it with us on the GSCO Blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Twitter and Instagram users should also use #GSColo.
We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.