Go vote, and take your kids with you
Learning by living is exactly what election day is about. We talk a lot in our family about making the world a better place, and today is one example of that. I started taking my kids with me to the polling place as early as Kindergarten.
Voting shows kids that adults are working to make their world a better place, and are participating in a process Americans are fortunate to have. When we take kids with us to vote, we teach them to respect process, to understand this civic importance, as well as to respect change. Not just for presidents, but also for mayors, governors and state representatives whom also affect our lives, often far more than presidents.
Here are 5 basics you need to know about voting with your children:
1) You are allowed to bring children under 18 with you into the voting booth in every state in the country. So yes, teenagers who are 16 or 17 can come in with you, believe it or not. So can newborns and kids of every age in between.
2) Many states limit the number of children you can take in to vote with you. In Maryland, for example, it's two or fewer under 18 who can accompany a parent or caregiver into the booth. So what's a single mom of three to do when she can't get a babysitter? I guess she'd better make fast friends with the people in line behind her ...
3) While at the polls, your children may not interfere with or disrupt the voting process or they may be asked to leave. Meaning there goes your chance to vote, so bring distractions, sedatives (relax - I'm joking), whatever it takes to keep them quiet and well-behaved. No easy feat for parents of babies, toddlers, or otherwise rambunctious kids -- especially when the lines are long!
4) You can let your son or daughter cast your vote for you. Many parents do that as a way to get their kids even more involved in the process. And they love it!
5) If you're thinking about voting with your kids as a photo op, think again. Most states won't let you take cameras, video, or audio devices into the voting booth, and certainly won't let you photograph the ballot. So save the snapshots for before and after, or you and the little ones will risk being kicked out.