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It’s Election Day – Learn About Elections Around the World

Today is Election Day in the United States. It’s an important day in which citizens exercise their right to vote for people to represent them at the city, county, state, and national levels.

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.

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

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.

To learn more about elections around the world, check out Elections 101 from PBS Kids and Democracy Around the World from PBS Teachers.

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!

 

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Oh, the Places You’d Go!

With the current economic crisis, concerns about the impact of global warming on travel and tourism, and a million other good excuses, many people are staying close to home right now.

But anyone who suffers from wanderlust knows that even when you can’t quit your job and travel around the world for 18 months, you can still dream about all the places you’d go.

Even thought my summer travel plans are probably only taking me to Niagara Falls and possibly a long weekend in Hershey Park, my short list of must-visit destinations include China, Costa Rica, and Thailand.

According to HotelsCombined.com (and the Philadelphia Inquirer), the most popular destinations in 2010 were:

  1. London
  2. Paris
  3. Dubai
  4. New York
  5. Bangkok
  6. Rome
  7. Hong Kong
  8. Barcelona
  9. Sydney
  10. Singapore

Is your dream destination on this list? If not, where in the world would you like to go?

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