Election Day with kids, yay or nay?

  • The kids after our polling place adventure today.
The kids after our polling place adventure today. (Sarah Kelber )
November 06, 2012|By Sarah Kickler Kelber | The Baltimore Sun

When it came time for me to cast my vote today, I knew I faced an important decision: to bring the kids or not?

It was an easy choice: Since I had a little flexibility in my work schedule today, definitely yes. Isaac came with me as an infant to vote in the 2008 presidential election (though I was still on maternity leave, so work schedules didn't come into play at all). I brought him along in 2010, too, though I wasn't sure how he'd behave. I cast it as an adventure, and we lucked out and there weren't lines, so it all worked out.

This was the first year that I thought Isaac -- at nearly 4-and-a-half -- might have an inkling of what the polling-place "adventure" was all about. So we spent some time talking about what voting means and what the process is. This morning, he didn't want to get up and was being very whiny until he remembered we were going to "go voting," and he perked up immensely. So off we went.

I brought snacks and toys to cope if there were lines, but there weren't. At my polling place (Howard Community College), the longest part of the process was getting to the right floor of the parking garage for voters -- and that was well-organized and had plenty of signs. When we got to the room where the voting machines were, there wasn't a line for check-in or for the machines, so we breezed right in.

Aaron, the baby, was content in his stroller, and Isaac was definitely intrigued by the process. I'd read the ballot carefully ahead of time so that if the kids were being unruly, especially if we'd had to wait long, I could get in and get out -- get my vote cast without affecting others. I went through and clicked the buttons for my various choices, and everyone was being pretty quiet, until Isaac suddenly knocked on the voting booth behind me. Thankfully, it was empty. Then he started looking at the screen and trying to spot his sight words. He was excited to see "Next" at the bottom of each page.

As I got to the last page and was checking my choices over, he said, "Mommy, look, the bottom of the page says, 'CATS'!" I told him it said "cast" and that the next word said "ballot." I gave the page a final glance over and hit the "cast ballot" button. "That means I voted," I told him. "And now we're done for this year. Tonight, they'll count all the votes and we'll find out the results."

I'm not sure he really understood, but he was excited to get a sticker at the end. Aaron definitely didn't understand. But we've started a tradition, and that's a good decision for sure.

Did you bring your kids with you to the polls? Why or why not?

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