I used to think that being a regular voter was all I needed to do my part as an engaged citizen. I no longer believe that is enough.

As we celebrate Independence Day today, I have been thinking of all that it takes to make a democracy function. So many tasks require citizen engagement, and few people even think about stepping up to help with the civic grunt work. Up your involvement this year by voting plus doing one more thing for democracy.

Examples of “plus one” involvement include:

  • Volunteering to serve on a local government board or commission
  • Donating to voter turnout organizations
  • Securing signatures on a petition to get an issue on the ballot
  • Counting absentee ballots or working as an election precinct official
  • Hosting a volunteer who is doing fieldwork for a campaign
  • Running for local office
  • Writing postcards to encourage voter turnout
  • Showing up at a governmental meeting to make your views known
  • Working for the Census and going door-to-door or farm-to-farm to get accurate counts
  • Volunteering to drive people to the polls
  • Tutoring a student studying for their citizenship test

It’s easy to grouse about things on social media and it’s no fun to go around with a petition — but only one advances the democratic process. Today, in between the cookouts and fireworks, take a moment to remember what this day is about. Of course, you need to vote in November but commit to doing at least one “plus one” activity for your community between now and the election. Democracy requires engagement to thrive.

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