Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Importance of Voting

Today is election day.

As my kids have watched their television shows (i.e., Disney channel primarily), they have been told over and over about how important voting is in our country. In fact, I think it was the Disney Channel's website that actually had an online "election" where the kids could vote for either presidential candidate.

At school, my three grade schoolers (2d, 4th, and 6th) are voting in a mock election.

Voting is in the air!

I was thinking last night about my first venture to the voting booth. I'll admit it...I was terrified! I was afraid I would push the wrong button or completely mess something up. I was intimidated and absolutely certain that everyone else knew "how to do it."

So I decided I would take my children with me to the voting booth today and start familiarizing them with the voting process, so that as they eventually reach voting age, they will feel more comfortable. Plus, they're so eager that the candidate our family is voting for win, and the fact that this is such a monumental election, I thought it would be a great way to include them in a bit of history in the making.

Fortunately, we live in a very rural community, so when we arrived there were only 6 people in line ahead of us. As we walked through the line, the judges were so gracious as I explained to the kids about how they first ask for my identification, so they can first be sure it's me, and also to "cross my name off" because each person only gets one vote.

Next, they watched as the judge flipped through the book and found my voter registration form, and then asked me to sign the form so they could compare my signature to the signature on the form.

We stepped further down the line, where a very patient and kind judge explicitly explained the electronic voting procedure (we didn't have the option of a paper ballot this year), how to input the "secret 4-digit code" and then how to turn the wheel to select each candidate before pressing the vote button.

When at last we stepped into the voting booth, the kids gathered around, and watched closely to be sure I didn't make a mistake and vote for the wrong candidate! After all my selections were made, I pressed the "cast ballot" button, and we all double-checked the printed ballot that appeared, then, with their hands all on mine, I pressed the "cast ballot" button one last time and our vote was cast.

The kids then proudly wore their "I voted" stickers to school, and couldn't wait to share their story with all their friends.

On the way to school, I explained to them how privileged we are in America to have the right to vote. But I also explained to them that whichever candidate is elected, he will be our President, and even though that may not be the man we selected, he is definitely a person worthy to be president, and we should respect that he is in that position because of the "will of the people."

I just hope the excitement they are feeling today will stick with them as they mature into adulthood, and they will never forget that the freedom to vote for our candidate of choice is one of the many things that makes our country great.

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