Elections date back to ancient Greece and Rome. They have been used to elect the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope.
In India, elections were held at the village level.
Ancient Arabs used elections to select their leader, called the caliph.
To be a good citizen, Americans have to educate themselves about the issues, decide which are the most important to them, research the candidates for public office, and cast their ballot on Election Day.
Many Americans also volunteer for political campaigns. They might go door to door with information about the candidates and the issues to educate others. They might make phone calls to voters to provide resources and information. They may work to put together a mailing or help create a website.
Political involvement doesn’t begin when the polls open on Election Day and end when they close. To truly participate in the democratic process, Americans have to stay engaged throughout the year so they can hold their representatives accountable.
Once candidates take office, Americans need to communicate with them to ensure that they continue to support the positions that mean the most to the voters. If a candidate seems to be listening to a minority of powerful and influential people and ignoring the concerns of the citizens who elected them, people have to contact those representatives and hold them accountable for their choices.
Americans are very fortunate to have one of the most responsive systems of government in the world. But many other countries also vote. Here’s a list of nations and how their leaders are chosen.
About 112 countries hold direct elections for their head of state. A direct election means that voters directly cast their ballots for the person or political party they want to support. More than 220 countries (including dependent territories) hold direct elections at the local level.
The United States holds indirect elections for the head of state, also known as the president. Indirect elections mean that voters cast their ballots for a representative who will select a candidate for president.
If you’re interested in participating in a vote just for children, check out The Global Vote on issues that affect children around the world.
Happy Election Day!