BY PAULA DRUMMOND
When my son was young, he watched what his parents did, as most children do. My husband and I have always paid attention to what goes on around us, and avidly follow election coverage; so it was that our son became interested in elections at a young age.
Picture this: an excited four-year-old holding him mom’s hand as they walk up to the entrance to their polling place, going with his mom to vote! …. not because he had to, but because he wanted to. I wondered what the election officials would think; I suppose there are always some kids that come along, but how many want the process explained to them while their parent votes? That was my plan, crossing my fingers and hoping it would work out. The poll workers could not have been nicer, smiling and chatting with my son as we worked our way through the check-in process. Once in the voting booth, I showed him the ballot and marker. I explained that I had to color in each bubble I selected so no white space showed. If I did it wrong, my vote could not be counted. He watched me carefully, then asked to inspect my work. He took this task seriously, checking each bubble, then nodded his head to give me his approval.
When we exited the polling both, I handed him my ballot to give to the election official, then helped him feed it into the optical scanning machine. Whisk! His eyes grew wide as the ballot was sucked into the machine. When the last official we passed on the way out put an “I Voted” sticker on his shirt, he smiled broadly and skipped out to our car, proud as he could be that he “voted” for the first time.
Over the years, I have watched my son eagerly vote in his first-grade mock election, stay up late to watch presidential election results, watch candidate debates, and attend election watch parties. He was incredibly frustrated that his birthday was past the deadline to register to vote in the last presidential election; you know he made sure to register as soon as he could! Now he’s in college, voting absentee, never missing an election. This past week, he texted to tell me that he is starting an internship with a political campaign; who knows what his future may hold?
Perhaps he would have done these things anyways, but I feel good thinking back to the first time he “voted” with mom and proud that my husband and I have raised a politically aware citizen and voter.