Has it been awhile since your civics education in school or did your school not even offer civics? We have put together some resources on how to be an effective and engaged citizen.

To be an effective citizen you must be an informed voter and an active participant in our democracy. Below are 8 steps to becoming an engaged citizen – please complete as many steps as possible and repeat these steps every election cycle:

Step 1Register to vote and stay registered – don’t let your registration lapse because of a change of address;
Step 2: Become an informed voter – use resources like BallotpediaProject VoteSmartVote411, and of course become a member the Center for Freethought Equality so you can get information from its affiliated political action committee about endorsed candidates;
Step 3: Meet and talk to the candidates and elected officials at public forums and events;
Step 4: Invest in your preferred candidate(s) with your time and money – volunteer for the campaign and/or make a financial contribution – these actions will help you build a relationship with the campaign and candidate;
Step 5: Tell your friends and family who you are supporting and get them engaged;
Step 6VOTE – not just in presidential elections — but in every election;
Step 7: Continue the relationship by meeting with your newly elected or re-elected officials to talk about issues that are important to you – invite them to speak at your group or event;
Step 8Run for public office.

Government provides a summary of the three branches of the federal government and information on state, local, and tribal governments, how to find and contact federal agencies by name and topic, and how to find and contact your federal, state, and local elected officials.

Executive Branch: Follow what is happening in the White House including who is making decisions and what nominations and executive orders are being issued.

Legislative Branch: To find and track federal legislation use Get to know and view the schedules of your Senators and member of the House. Project VoteSmart provides an overview of how a bill becomes a law.

Judicial Branch: Review the calendar and opinions of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court only hears about 80 cases each year so it’s important to learn about the lower courts too.

Federal Agencies: has information on how to find and contact federal agencies by name and topic. The Federal Register explains how federal agencies turn laws into regulations.