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Taking Children to the Polls

I was proud to lead by example on Election Day.

On Election Day I had the privilege of participating in one my favorite voting activities; I took my seven-year-old son with me to the polls.

He's come with me to vote many times and we've fallen into a nice ritual that unfolds as we drive to our polling station. The conversation starts in the car and the questions come at me one after the other from the back seat. His young mind is so curious to know more about the adult world.

My hope is always to give him the most informed answers I can about the democratic process that America uses to elect representatives and make new laws. The night before an election, I find myself pounding away on my computer, refreshing my knowledge of American history so that I can give him an answer to every single question he asks.

This election day was no different. "When did we earn the right to vote again?" he asked first thing. This simple question opened a complicated conversation about the battles that were waged before us so that everyone could have the right to vote. 

The fight for suffrage is not easy to explain to a child, since they generally don't understand discrimination but he followed along pretty well, listening intently as I told him about some of the patriots who worked so hard so that I could vote with so many others on election day.

We entered the elementary school gym where I am registered. We were holding hands. "Hello there!" a nice volunteer greeted my son as we walked in. I find that most people at the polls are more than happy to see a child there with their parents. We glanced around the room to see two other kids holding hands with their moms too. 

I felt pride as I filled out the registration form and my son leaned on the table, watching my every pen stroke as I wrote in all the requested information.  We glided together arm in arm as I stepped in front of the computer to vote. He stood quietly, just as I had instructed him to do while I voted.

His favorite part is when he is given the "Future Voter" sticker at the end. He peels the paper off the back and slaps it onto his shirt with a smile.

I find it a privilege to take him with me so that he can witness the process first hand. My hope is that by the time he is old enough to vote, it will seem as natural as breathing for him to go to the polls because of the trips he took there as a child. 

I hope that as he looks back over his childhood that he will remember me as a woman who loved her country and was always proud to vote with him by my side. I hope that as a man, he feels pride when he votes, too. 

As we walked back to the car, hand in hand once again, he looked up at me and said "Thank God for Susan B. Anthony and her friends, Mom. I'm so glad that you have the right to vote."

My job here is done.

Do you take your children with you to the polls? Do you think that it's important to talk them about the election? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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