The midterms are coming and it seems like everyone is focusing on voter turnout. I’ve seen some people even start a campaign on Twitter encouraging others to share their plans for voting. When I saw this, I said to myself “That’s easy. I’m going to vote in the morning to avoid the lines and I’m going to take the girls.” This has become somewhat of an unintentional tradition in my family. My parents live in the neighborhood and vote at the same precinct. In the last few years it has been a chance for the kids to sneak a few extra minutes with Memaw and Papaw.
This year, Memaw and Papaw will be out of town on Election Day, but it occurred to me that taking my daughters with me to vote may still be important. Voter turnout in Northern Kentucky has historically been low and some have theorized that this translates into real-world legislative consequences for the region. I believe that some changes in Kentucky, as in other states, are necessary to improve voter turnout, including increasing options for early voting. But I also think some of the work will have to come down to ordinary citizens. For me, part of that work means taking my daughters with me when I go to vote. Here are my reasons why:
- As a parent, I have found that–good or bad–my example means a lot. I struggled to get both of my girls to eat their vegetables as toddlers, but noticed that eventually they started snatching the carrots out of my salads. I got flu shots recently with both girls, making a point to demonstrate calm as I accepted my own first and letting the oldest go next after a reminder that her younger sister follows her lead. She took deep breaths and stayed calm. Remarkably, when the 2-year-old’s turn came, so did she. Acting as her sister and I had, it seemed as if it hadn’t even occurred to her that she should get upset. In short, you can say that things matter, but kids pick up on what you do. I want my kids to be voters when they grow up so I want them to see me vote.
- Voting may seem boring or like a disruption for adults but it is a unique and fun experience for young kids. They get to go to a new place and see new people. They get to ask all sorts of questions about the process. They get to help put the ballot in the machine. And, don’t forget, they get free stickers. My kids would do a lot of things for free stickers, including waiting in line for a few minutes.
- Voting with my kids is more fun for me. I cannot stand waiting in line. I just cannot stand it. Though I realize that my desire for higher voter turnout means longer lines, I still don’t like it. My kids help me keep me company, and they are goofballs who usually appear to amuse the other folks in line and the poll workers.
- School is out anyway (at least for my older child), so I might as well.
- Voting with my kids present helps me remember why I am voting in the first place. Let’s face it: sometimes the choices in elections aren’t great. Sometimes we don’t feel that great about our towns, our states, or our countries. In fact, there are good reasons why Americans might feel disillusioned with democracy in general. I like to take my girls with me to vote to remind myself that when I vote I am voting for them.
That’s my plan to vote on November 6th: I’m going in the morning and I’m taking my girls. What’s your plan to vote?