People get into local politics for reasons as varied as having a say in their community, trying to make a difference or wanting to change policies they don’t agree with. Getting involved can initially seem daunting if you don’t know where to begin, but with research, volunteering, and using your voice, you can become an involved citizen.
- Research your elected officials. If you’re new in town or just haven’t paid much attention, you may not know who is in charge of your local government. With the whole world at your fingertips, it’s easier than ever to find out.  A simple Google search will pull up information about all the elected officials in your community. Knowing who represents you is a critical step to being an informed and active citizen.
- Register to vote. You are eligible to vote in elections for the area in which you live. Update your voter registration if you change addresses. Some ways to register are to:
- Go to your state or local election office.
- Go to the department of motor vehicles.
- Register online, if possible. 
- Join a political party. Political parties work together to elect officials who hold their beliefs. Based on your own beliefs, values, and ideas for government, choose the party that is right for you. Register to join the party of your choosing with your state board of elections. You may be able to register for your chosen party when you register to vote.
- Attend meetings. City council, board of education, and other board meetings are typically open to the public. As boring as they might sound to some people, they will help you understand the inner workings of your government and see your representatives in action. 
- Some meetings allow for audience input. Come prepared with questions about policies, rules or viewpoints you’d like clarification on.
- Stay informed. Local newspapers and tv stations will keep you in the loop on the latest happenings in your government and in the political field. Subscribe to newsletters and papers online. Follow your representatives and the media on Twitter and Facebook.
- Work on a campaign. The candidate will be grateful for as much or little time as you can give. Knock on doors, make phone calls, and support events. This is an exciting opportunity to get to know other people in the organization and the community and to gain invaluable experience. Volunteering on a campaign will give you the foundational understanding you need if you think you might want to run for local office one day.
- Work for a party organization. The headquarters of the local political party is bustling with activity. Help stuff envelopes, answer the phones, and respond to emails. You will learn the ins and outs of how the organization is run, and set yourself up to take on more responsibility in the future.
- Serve as a poll worker. Help with registration, logistics, and supervising a precinct on election day. To see if you can serve, find out the following:
- If you must be a registered voter.
- If there is an age requirement.
- If there is a residency requirement.
- If a political party affiliation is required.
EditUsing Your Voice
- Attend town hall meetings. Town hall meetings differ from most meetings that election officials attend because they are created to interact directly with constituents. Attending one is a way to speak directly to your representatives about issues that matter to you. Most town hall meetings are under-attended, but they are free and take place in public places.
- Check your official’s social media accounts and website or just call their office to find out when the meetings take place.
- Go with a friend to your first few meetings to feel more comfortable.
- Prepare a question to ask if there’s a topic you want to know more about.
- Contact your representatives. Let them know how you think they are doing, what you want to see them do differently, and what you appreciate about their service. There are many ways to contact your representatives:
- Use social media.
- Call and speak with their staff members or leave a voicemail.
- Write a letter.
- Write an email.
- Visit their office and speak in person.
- Donate. Local politics run off the money they receive from voters like you. Use your money to support causes and candidates you believe in. Give to candidates you believe in, political parties you are affiliated with, and the groups who are doing the groundwork. 
- Vote. This may sound obvious, but it’s the most effective way to have a say in your local government.
- Set a reminder for election day.
- Make time in your schedule to vote in person, or mail in your ballot ahead of time.
- Be the change you want to see. If you don’t like what your representatives are doing, take action.
- Run for a local government office. There is no better way to create changes locally than by running for office yourself. Once you choose the office, fill out the paperwork, assemble a team, and begin knocking on doors and making yourself known. If you’re affiliated with a party or group, ask them for support.
- Join a citizen advisory board. Work with other community members to give your unique perspective on issues that affect you. Participate by doing research, taking public testimony, reviewing reports, and creating recommendations for local problems.
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