I just read a really delightful post by blogger Phil James in which he describes how, when he was a child, his father used to take him along to his polling place on election day and let him pull the lever in the voting booth. James says that this helped foster a lifetime love for political campaigns, voting and local elections:
“Not to step on too many clichés here, but I feel there was more than one life lesson learned that day. I asked dad all sorts of questions about the election. I brought my homemade sign to class to rally the support from my peers; got a beat down from my brother after admitting that I voted for Mondale in the mock school election. It led to a brief career in political campaign work after college and an obsession with social justice.”
James illustrates a family tradition that is still important to many parents: teaching children the importance of taking an active interest in politics and our civic duty to vote for the best campaign candidates. By making it a fun family event, James’ father helped ensure that his son would always love the act of voting and pass on the tradition to his own kids.
I’m not sure how many local Board of Elections poll supervisors would allow parents to take their kids into the voting booth, but are there any fun election day traditions that you do with your children?
Mine are great helpers on election day, and last year they helped me wave campaign signs at the polls. We had a blast, and I’m looking forward to involving them in future campaigns as they get older. Even if I weren’t an elected official, though, I would still try to instill the importance of being an educated voter and following through with your civic duty on election day.