Four years ago on Election Day I brought my 9-month-old daughter with me to the polls. She obviously doesn't remember it, but I hope she'll remember coming to vote with me today.
Personalizing Election Day
I knew I'd get an iconic "I Voted" sticker after I feeding my ballot into the machine, but I didn't know if they'd give a sticker to my almost-4-year-old daughter for coming with me.
I wanted to make sure she realized how special Election Day was, so I made some stickers for the two of us using some scraps of sticker paper I had and a star-shaped hole punch. Then I colored two of the star stickers with markers to make them into star flowers and kept two plain for variety.
When I woke her up this morning, I said, "We have something important to do before we go to school today. Will you come help me do this important thing?"
Her face lit up and she said, "Yeah! I've always wanted to help my Mommy do something."
I explained to her that today is Election Day and that's the day when all the grownups get to go choose who they want to run our country. That's very important.
Then she got ready for school — all by herself (picked her outfit, got dressed, brushed her hair and chose a necklace to wear) — and we were ready to go. Most mornings it's a struggle to get her ready in the morning, so I was proud of her excitement and motivation this morning.
When we went in to say goodbye to my husband, she told him, "Daddy, I'm going to go help Mommy do something important before I go to school." (Daddy stayed home with our 1-year-old twins.)
We got buckled into the car and drove half a mile up the road to the church serving as my precinct's polling place.
The line was pretty short, but I came prepared: Teddy Grahams for my daughter to snack on and then an Olivia the pig activity book and a pen in case she wanted to do something while she waited.
She stayed close by while I carefully filled in my ballot, quietly eating her snack. I asked if she wanted to write in her activity book. She sat on the floor while I finished my ballot. The room was quiet and the voting booth next to me was empty because there wasn't a line. I felt a sense of accomplishment as I filled in the last oval on my ballot.
Then we walked over to the ballot counter and she watched as I inserted my ballot into the machine. When we were finished, the volunteer standing by the machine gave us each an "I Voted" sticker. We thanked her for the stickers and went out into the hallway.
My daughter put all three of her stickers onto her dress and then helped me with mine. After we had all of our stickers on, she said she didn't want to keep hers on her dress because she didn't want them to fall off at school.
I suggested she put her stickers onto her activity book cover to keep them safe and she said that was a good idea.
I gave her a big hug and thanked her for coming with me to do this important thing. Then we headed back to the car to drive to school.
While we were in the car, she asked me if I thought her best friend from school voted this morning, too. I told her she should ask him when she sees him. Then I added that maybe his mommy and daddy were going to vote after school because not everyone votes in the morning.
He voted, too
When we arrived at school, we told the teachers that we had something important we needed to do before we came to school that morning. I pointed to my "I Voted" sticker and the teachers smiled.
When my daughter's friend came running up to say good morning, I saw he was wearing an "I Voted" sticker. I told my daughter, "Look! He voted, too!"
He smiled pointing at his sticker and said, "We went to the church to do it!"
I said, "We did, too! That's great!"
It's important our children know what voting is and that we're lucky to have the right to choose who leads our country/state/city. So, load up the kids in the car and get out and vote!
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Valerie Moe is the Senior Graphic Designer for Minnesota Parent magazine. She lives in Bloomington with her husband, their 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old twins. You can comment below or contact her directly here.