Why I Take My Toddler to the Polls

When I was in elementary school, our teachers took us for a tour of the poll center where we had the opportunity to “vote” in a mock election. That day, I proudly went home to tell me parents all I had learned about. “People died for the right to vote.”

After school that day, I told my mom about all the women who fought for their right to vote, for the people who died to have their voices heard. Every election year since, I’ve nagged my mom to vote. My mother came to the United States from Poland when she was 20 years old. She earned the right to vote in 1981 when she became a U.S. citizen.

So my mom went to the polls and brought me along. We didn’t have a babysitter, so we stood in line together, waiting our turn. I went in to the booth with her, and we pulled the curtain behind us. My mom let me pull the levers, helping her vote for candidates.

Voting is important. Often local elections have more impact on our day-to-day lives than the big presidential elections that happen every four years. Elections are not just about voting for people but are a time to work out constitutional amendments, bills, ordinances, etc. in addition to electing mayors, government officials, and representatives. Voting is about exercising a right that many people in other nations do not have. It is about civic participation and being an informed local and global citizen.

Election day is an opportunity to exercise your rights and set an example for your children.

Voting sparks conversations. It gets us to engage with our children about the hard questions in life. Voting teaches our children how politics work, how decisions are made, and how we as citizens can be involved. It teaches children to be engaged. Monkey see, monkey do.

While it often feels impossible to have our voices heard, I want my daughter to know she has the right to exercise her opinion and voice her concerns.

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Take this opportunity to teach your children that we can make change. Regardless of your political affiliation or where you stand on an issue, voting is an important part of civic engagement and democracy. Exercise your rights.

One Response to Why I Take My Toddler to the Polls

  1. Avatar
    Katie March 1, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

    I took my two (1&3) voting with me today, too! Of course, my 3 year old wanted to press the buttons! I told him that I needed to press them, but that he could press the red one at the end. A polling official stood up and barked at us, “only the voter can push the red button!” My three year old started to cry, which made my one year old cry… Which made it very hard for me to make sure I was voting ‘correctly’ (or, as I had planned) on the rest of the propositions. In the end, I let my 3 year old hold my hand while I pressed the button. It’s a shame that a silly rule caused such a uproar could have thwarted the very lesson I was trying to teach. (Of course, I did my best to turn it around… But it was definitely a struggle!)

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