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Voting matters . . . even to kids

November 6, 2012

There are many things in life, good and bad, that our children learn from watching us.  On the good end of the spectrum, one of the things I have hoped to model for my children is the awesome privilege it is to exercise our right to vote in America.  Since they were born, my kiddos have been carted to voting booths in car seats, in near blizzards, uphill both ways.  (Okay the last part was a bit of an exaggeration, but car seats and blustery conditions are not.)

Not all experiences even in a country as great as ours are innate.  Just like the mourning doves each summer in my backyard teach their offspring, we need to model for our children the voting process.  Hence the reason that I have taken my kids along every time I vote.  Is it convenient? No.  Is it easy? No.  Would I rather go to the polling place by myself? Not in a million years!

My kiddos have come to expect that during election season that we will talk about the candidates and what they represent.  Then on voting day, we find a table (or sometimes the floor where we can be away from the crowd), and I read each and every word on the ballot.  We then discuss which candidate for whom we are going to vote.  Then we (well, actually I) mark the ballot.  When we are done discussing and marking the ballot, we cast our official ballot (which has evolved over the years as technology has changed).

Even when we moved away from the Marshall area briefly, we exercised our right to vote using the absentee ballot system.  (My kids were crushed when they could not go to the polling place and when they didn’t receive an “I voted” sticker by mail.)  It was then that I realized that my goal of  trying to teach my children about the election process and civic responsibilities that they “got it”.  They understood the importance of voting, and it mattered to them that I take them along.

Yes, I have strong convictions about my voting and making my vote count, and I also have friends in just about every political ideology group possible. Voting with my children isn’t indoctrination; it’s an educational opportunity. I vote very differently from my parents and siblings, and someday there is a good chance my children will do the same.  And I am okay with that.  In fact, my tenth grade son created his own political t-shirt for Election Day espousing his “vote” for Jimmy McMillan for President – because “The Rent is still too high”.   He did it to be silly, but sometimes in a world of incredibly mean-spirited attack ads some levity is needed. At the end of the day, I know where his actual vote would be cast, but I didn’t impede his freedom of expression today.

Voting matters – even to our kids! So if you haven’t had a chance to make it to the polls today.  I really encourage you to do so, and if you have kids under the age of 18, I HIGHLY encourage you to take them along.  You might get a few stares (like I did this morning with 3 kids in tow waiting in line at 6:50 AM for my ward’s polling place to open), but you never know, you might get a few smiles from those that see a family voting together.

God Bless America!  God Bless You! And, please vote today!

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