My boys don’t understand the importance of voting yet, but I’m making it one of my many jobs as a mom to demonstrate and explain it is my (and eventually their) civic duty to vote in elections to make my voice heard. As a woman, I take this especially to heart since (white) women were not granted the right to vote until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920. There are women alive today who saw this happen in their lifetimes, and I’m not going to throw this fundamental right away.
In fact, I believe it is hugely important to engage in local efforts like voter registration as well as support legislation guaranteeing all citizens their right to vote. In the last presidential election, I helped register voters from different backgrounds, political parties, and ages because I wanted to see everyone become civically engaged, not just those who think the way I do.
As voters, we choose officials to represent us at each level of government. I like having a say in the election process and knowing my vote matters. I research the issues and candidates and vote in accordance with my views, and I’m making my sons aware of the process. In Florida, there are many options available to vote; you can vote by mail, vote in the early voting period, or vote on Election Day at your polling place. As a first step, I’ve taken both of them along with me to vote in previous elections. I like early voting because it isn’t as crowded as Election Day (no waiting in lines is integral when voting with a toddler and baby), and they get to see process and get a sweet “I voted” sticker.
As a kid, I remember going with my mom to vote and enjoying being in the booth with the curtain drawn around us. I felt important standing next to her as she made decisions as to who to elect and what laws to approve. I want my sons to feel like they matter enough to make decisions that govern their lives and hope that one day they also will be advocates for the right to vote for all.
My household is filled with the music from the Broadway musical, Hamilton, these days. It follows the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, and if you haven’t heard of it or listened to its soundtrack, I highly recommend it. The following words from its song, Dear Theodosia, resonate when I think about the future and my sons:
“If we lay a strong enough foundation
We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to
you, and you’ll blow us all away…
My sons are why I care and vote, and why I make my freedom of choice count.
If you don’t know where to start the process, first you have to register by October 11, 2016, to vote in the Presidential Election. Forms are available online, in public facilities like libraries, or from volunteers actively engaged in registering voters. Once you are officially registered at your current address (if you have moved since the last election, update it), you can sign up online to vote by mail, you can participate in early voting October 24 through November 6 in Pinellas or Hillsborough (10/29-11/5 in Pasco), or vote on Election Day, November 8th, at your polling place listed on your registration card. Questions about the process? Please ask in the comments section. I’d love to help you!