How do citizens get more involved in policy and change in their community, their state or their country?
Civic engagement basics
- The United States is a representative democracy.
- Our government is elected by citizens.
- Citizens vote for their government officials.
- Elected officials represent the citizens’ ideas and concerns in government.
Your vote matters
- Register to vote.
- Make a plan to vote on election day, by advance ballot by mail, or in person advance voting.
- Learn about candidates and issues on your ballot.
- Cast your vote.
- Stay up-to-date about the work of elected officials in your community, state and country.
Check your voter registration
Use Voter View from the Kansas Secretary of State Office to check your voter registration. Use the “Districts” dropdown to view your voting district for each level of government. This is important to know which candidates will be on your ballot.
Communicating with leaders
Identify your elected officials
- Topeka and Shawnee County elected officials contact information – Local and regional elected officials represent the people who live and vote in the Topeka and Shawnee County, Kansas area.
- How to contact your national elected officials – National elected officials like the President, Senators and Representatives work in Washington, D.C. Learn about the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the U.S. government.
Communicate with elected officials
Writing letters to elected officials: Learn how elected officials react to constituent communications, and how to create both printed and electronic messages to maximize reading and positive response.
Lobbying decision-makers: Learn tested skills for approaching and lobbying those with more decision-making power than you, so you can persuade them to take a course of action you support.
Communicate with your community
Writing Letters to the Editor: Learn how to write and send effective print and email letters to editors of various media types. This site also provides examples to help you write messages that will gain both editorial and reader support.
Organizing public demonstrations: Learn what a public demonstration can accomplish, and why, when and how you could organize one to promote your cause and help achieve your goals.
Using social media for digital advocacy: Learn about the different forms of social media and their audiences. You’ll also learn how to use different social media platforms to help achieve your organizational goals.
Working with others
When citizens decide to get more involved in policy and change they often work with others. Research the issues that interest you. Find groups who are already working on the topics that concern you. Many groups have policy positions, advocacy statements or other organized approaches on their websites.
Community Connections Librarian Lissa Staley can help you research topics using library and online resources. Make an appointment or email her your questions at email@example.com.