The Ritual of Voting

vote“We should do something to right the wrongs that we see and not just complain about them,” – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Growing up in the 1980’s, I was always taught that my vote is my voice. I was raised knowing that it is our right and our civic duty to vote and it should never be taken for granted. I know that on Election Day, I show up and vote. Not only did Mom and Dad teach this, but they led by example. Back then, my sister and I accompanied our parents religiously to the voting booth. We entered the gym/cafeteria of my elementary school as a family. We watched them sign their names into the log. They took us by the hand and led us to the back of the line with a tight grip on our small hands and their punch cards. Small talk was common as we stood in line. No matter what your political party, there was still a sense of community. We followed our parents into the booth and they reminded us not to shout out the name they picked on the ballot. Our job was to quietly close the curtain behind them and observe. In that booth, my parents conducted the smallest civics class known to mankind. They explained each of the races to us with great importance, whether it was electing our next president or selecting the next local school board members. We stood on our tiptoes to see what name they moved the lever towards. Before they made their selection, they carefully checked to make sure the ballot and the lever lined up to the candidate of their choice. Once or twice, we helped them punch in the hole. Afterwards, we piled back into the car and drove home satisfied to know that we did our part to make a difference. Just like learning to tie my shoes, blow my nose and make change, I grew up knowing the importance of voting. And since turning 18, I’ve rarely missed an election. Now that I have kids of my own, the tradition continues. When they were little, they came with me to vote. Of course, now there are no more paper ballots. Everything is computerized, but the rituals are still the same. They watched me register. They stood in line and talked to the neighbors. They pulled the curtain closed behind me and watched as I cast my vote. When it was all over, they ran to the desk and asked for an “I voted” sticker to show their teachers at school. Now, my oldest is close to turning 18, but unfortunately not in enough time to vote in this election. But, she has been taught well. She knows the issues that face our country today and she has her strong opinions. She is more than ready to cast her vote in 2020. “Don’t boo – vote!” – Barack Obama

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