The following editorial appeared in the Des Moines Register on Nov. 2:

Parents teach children to brush their teeth, tie shoelaces, drive cars and open bank accounts. We share with them our religious beliefs and values. We tell them to be nice to others, wear seat belts and get to work on time.

The midterm elections represent an opportunity to teach our kids to be active participants in our democracy. If you haven’t already voted early or absentee, take your kids with you to vote on Tuesday.

Young kids can accompany their parents to polling places. The experience helps them understand that each person plays a role in our electorate and that voting is not a daunting process.

If you have an adult child, help make sure they get to the polls to vote themselves. Or help persuade friends who are on the fence about voting. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t registered.

Iowa allows same-day registration, meaning qualified residents can register and vote on Tuesday. (Most states require voters to register by a deadline generally falling between 8 and 30 days before Election Day.)

Those seeking to register will need to prove identity and where they live. The best option is a valid Iowa driver’s license with their current address, but there are other options for qualifying documents listed on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.

Part of the “fear factor” for voters of all ages is the feeling of being unprepared to choose the right candidates. Parents can download sample ballots from their county auditor’s website and have children help them research unfamiliar candidates before heading to the polls.

Helping parents do their “homework” will help youngsters understand the responsibilities of citizenship.

Of course, participating in a democracy is about more than just voting, and Election Day offers an occasion to talk with your children about government. Help them make connections between the actions of lawmakers and school safety, climate change, the cost of college and access to health care. Explain that taxes are not evil, but the way to fund schools, roads and parks. Encourage them to read newspapers, news websites and other credible source of information, think critically and form educated opinions on issues and candidates.

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Like young people all over the country, many students across Iowa walked out of school earlier this year to protest gun violence.

The protests were an exercise of their First Amendment rights. But achieving change takes more than joining a fired-up rally of their peers.

The rest of us have a responsibility to help young people understand the best way to speak up about government is by casting a ballot, and that ballot helps decide who lands in office and who crafts the policies and laws that affect all of our lives.

In the spirit of making voting a family activity, Iowans can also take their elderly relatives to the polls. Any voter who needs help marking a ballot due to a physical disability can bring a person of their choosing to help them. (This individual cannot, however, be an employer, an employer’s agent or an officer/agent of a union). If someone wants help from a precinct election official, two officials (one from each political party) will assist them.

Curbside voting is available for people with disabilities who are unable to enter the building of their polling place. Election officials will come to the car, and a voter can mark the ballot from the vehicle.The Secretary of State’s Office has a handy online Election Day FAQ with useful questions and answers.

Nearly 30 percent of the 2.2 million registered Iowa voters did not vote in the 2016 election. All of us can play a part in helping turn out more of our family and friends this year and in years to come.

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