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What Does It Mean To Be A Citizen In A Democracy?
Our country is a democracy. That means it is run by the people for the people. Citizens in our democracy have rights. For example, we have the right to speak freely, to practice our religion, to vote, and so on.

Citizens in a democracy also have responsibilities. One of these responsibilities is to choose our leaders. Another is to keep informed about what is going on with our government. It is also the responsibility of citizens to help make their community and neighborhood good places in which to live.

A democracy needs active citizens in order to work. There are many ways to take part in a democracy. This booklet will deal with three ways to be an active citizen. These three ways are:

Listing of Volunteer Referral Services

As you read through this booklet, you may come across some words about citizenship that are new to you. If you see a word that is in bold red print, clicking on them will take you to a definitions box. If you click on that same word in the definitions box, it will take you back to where you were reading.

The word box will tell you the meaning of the specially marked words on that page.

Below is a list of words that you will find in word boxes:

absentee ballot
county Board of Elections
elected official
House of Representatives
legislative process
Ohio General Assembly
candidates - people who want to be elected to an office. Candidates run for election.
polls- the place where people go to vote in their neighborhood.
general election - the event in the Fall where people vote for the candidates that they want to be elected. People also vote on issues at general elections.
resident (of Ohio) - a person who makes her/his home in Ohio.
primary - the event in the Spring where people vote for people that they want to be their party's candidates in the Fall general election. People also vote for issues at primary elections.
registered - to be signed up to vote.
county Board of Elections - a government agency that sets up and runs the elections in each county. For example, it is the Board of Elections that sets up polls and hires poll workers.
elected officials - people who are chosen by voters to do a job in government.
bill - a plan for a law that has not yet been made into a law. If a bill is passed, it is a law. If the bill is not passed, there is no new law.
legislative process - the steps that go into making a law.
Congress - the branch of our national government that makes the laws. Congress is made up of two parts: the House of Representatives and the Senate.
House of Representatives - one of the two houses of Congress. Each state elects representatives to go to Washington, DC to work in the House of Representatives.
Senate - one of the two houses of Congress. Each state elects two senators to send to Washington, DC to work in the Senate.
Ohio General Assembly - our state's version of the national Congress. The two houses are the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate. Together these two houses are responsible for making our state laws.
volunteers - Someone who works or helps without pay.
absentee ballot - a ballot is a form on which voters mark their vote. An absentee ballot is a ballot that people can mail in if they cannot go to the polls to vote.
debate - the discussion of questions or issues. Debates are usually between two or more people who have different points of view.
precinct - a local voting area. Every county has several precincts.
issues - subjects that people vote on, like taxes or laws. When you vote on issues, you are not voting for candidates.

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