Election Day Traditions

I voted sticker

Do you have any election day traditions?

Depending on what area of the country you live in, there may be different community gatherings to celebrate such an exciting day.

Perhaps you go to a pancake breakfast.

Maybe you go to a spaghetti dinner.

President Obama plays basketball in Chicago.

Candidate Romney…well, I don’t know, he hasn’t released that information yet. I’m sure his plan includes five points, though. Kidding! But seriously, does anyone know what he is doing? I was unable to find info when I wrote this post.

Tradition in my family has always been to go together to the polling place to vote together as a family. I remember pulling the thud of the curtain as I pulled the handle. Carefully reviewing the candidates and on what lines we would vote. My mother letting me help her press the levers in the voting machine. The thud as we once again pulled the curtain handle. The ding letting us know our votes had been cast. A wrinkled, smiling volunteer waiting with an “I Voted” sticker. What excitement! I’m getting choked up just at the thought of it. What can I say, I have inappropriate emotional responses!

I’m sure this tradition has contributed to my love of voting, and downright indignation of people who do not exercise their precious right.

We carry on this tradition in our home now, with our children, even if the way we vote has changed. All I can do is hope these kids will recall their lifetime of voting with fondness and a sense of responsibility. For themselves, their families, community, and country.

So today we will vote, and Ben will help fill in the circles. And then we will come home to eat an all-American meal of burgers, fries, and lettuce wedges.

Happy Election Day! Do you take your kids to vote with you?

My son’s cause – bring back the voting machine!

I voted stickerI love voting. In fact, Election Day is one of the most exciting days of the year for me.  When I was a child my parents used to take me with them to vote. I looked forward to being welcomed to our polling place by the town retirees, who know everyone’s name and who sit and drink coffee and snack, and happily chat with each other and voters alike. They chat about what’s new in the last year, the weather, voter turnout, and general light-hearted gossip.

I would carefully watch as my mother thoughtfully pushed the buttons, making her choice, and making her voice heard. When she was finished I eagerly pulled the lever to open the curtain and actually cast the vote! Excitement! It’s such a special feeling to have voted.

Of course we have been taking our son to vote since he was a baby. In the last couple of years I have let him help me push the buttons and of course pull the lever to cast the vote. He is really proud to have voted for Barack Obama, and is looking forward to another presidential election.

Last night was supposed to be no exception to his voting history, and the thought of voting was actually more exciting because at home AND at school he had been discussing voting for two days. He could barely contain himself and ran out the door to get in the car almost as soon as his dad got home. Kid loves to vote so off we went!

We were met at the door by detention-style cubbies, signs stating something along the lines of, “No political discussions,” and an official-looking man standing next to a pile of legal-length folders who said, “Here, put your ballot in this folder so no one can see who you voted for.”

Buzz kill. Paper ballots.

Ahh, man, they suck so bad!

So, we almost reluctantly signed in (with people who don’t know us and didn’t want to chat), received our ballots, and found cubbies. Ben looked on as I tried to sort out the confusing mess of a ballot and filled in the circles. Confused, and with the wind stolen from our sails, we walked over to the machine to cast our ballot. This he was able to do, but he still had issues.

“Mom, where are the other machines?”

“I guess we don’t use them anymore. I saw this coming, but it’s still such a bummer, I’m sorry buddy.”

“Tell those people to get the old machines back!”

“Honey, they know we want them back. But they can’t do anything about it. The government has decided this is how we should vote.”

“Well, we need to tell the government to get them back!”

At this point, I’m ushering him out of our polling place.

As we pull in the driveway he is still talking about contacting the government. He gets out of the car and starts to cry and runs to the house. This has gone too far. No one should cry on Election Day! At least wait for the results to roll in!

I kneel down and take the poor kid by the shoulders.

“Look at me. Next year YOU are going to vote! You are going to vote for President!”

“How am I going to do that?”

“Well, because you will be bigger, and big enough to help fill in those circles!”

“Okay!”

Big smiles, big hugs, and crisis averted. Kinda.

I’m still feeling a little ripped off this morning. But I’m still feeling ripped off about the extinction of card catalogs, so there you have it.

And at least they still gave us “future voter” and “I voted today” stickers.

How many of you voted yesterday?  When you vote do you take your children?