With 10 years of experience in a City Clerk’s office under my belt, it’s safe to say Election Day is my Super Bowl. While I no longer work in the trenches, joining other City Clerks for a glass of wine and dinner while poring over incoming results, I still spend every Election evening with the news on and my eyes glued to my computer screen, my finger tapping the refresh icon.
In my 20s, I was the friend who supplied everyone with voter registration forms when they moved and held Iron Jawed Angels viewing parties for my girlfriends to convince them to exercise their right to vote. After all, I was fond of saying, those women were beaten and force fed. How can we say we’re too “busy”?
When I had children, my City Clerk career came to an end as I became a stay-at-home mom, but my love for the electoral process didn’t die. Teaching my kids the importance of voting became a priority.
Our preparations start a week before Election Day when I pull out my ballot information and explain to them the open seats waiting to be filled, and the meaning of the words incumbent, proposition, referendum, and measure. Then we discuss the measures and candidates on the ballots. I emphasize the importance of answering the questions “why” and “why not” when deciding how to vote and make sure they know they don’t have to agree with how I’m voting. At ages 5 and 8, they don’t quite catch the nuances of meaning behind each item on the ballot, but I’m hoping I’m teaching them to think critically.
On Election Day morning, I give them copies of the ballots and allow them to fill in their own votes. In the past, I’ve read each line item for them and while I doubt they understood, they had fun filling in the circles. This year, I’ve noticed my 8-year-old starting to comprehend a little more, which makes me think I might be on the right track.
In the early evening, they join me at the polls. While I love the ease of mail-in ballots and use them during special elections, I still make the trek to our polling place for the general elections with the kids. They’ve done so since Joseph was a baby strapped to my chest during the mid-terms. I like that they see the pile of ballots and lines of people waiting to vote.
Election night is filled with food, family, and results rolling in. We keep the mood celebratory, no matter how we voted. I’ve often said I don’t really care which way a person votes as long as everyone does. It’s the day to have our voices heard and while my kids are still young, I want to raise them to realize their vote is important.