My kids have been coming with me to vote in every election since they were just over a year old. And when I say “every,” I mean every. Primaries, local, run-offs, national. It doesn’t matter. They’ve come with me for an important reason: I want to instill a culture of voting. And why do I want to do that? Because voting is one of our most important, most sacred rights duties as citizens, and there are too many people who don’t exercise their right to vote. Texas often ranks among the worst states in the country for voting participation, but the good news is we’re starting to improve, and there are action steps we can take to help!
I come from a mixed voting family. One of my parents has worked the polls for every election since I can remember, and the other has never voted. Never voted. I have never understood why not. I’m not sure why my brother and I took after the voter as opposed to the non-voter, but I do know that an example makes a difference. So, our kiddos see us do it all the time and look forward to voting as a family. (Side note- boo to corona for keeping them home from the primary vote this year. It’s the first one they’ve missed in 6 and 7 years!) Sometimes we make it an EVENT! Like ice cream or dinner afterward, and sometimes, it’s just a regular night, and we go home and do our usual thing. We do this very intentionally, so they grow up knowing that voting is just something we do, without question.
(Second side note- if my guys have ever given you shade or outright guilted you for not voting, sorry, and also a little not sorry! They’ve been confirmed to have done this to at least one babysitter, and there is no telling how many victims are out there!)
Why is voting such a big deal in our house, and why should it be for your family?
Here’s our list of why voting matters:
- Voting hasn’t always been open to everyone, and since so many made significant sacrifices to secure that right for all of our citizens, it’s essential to use it! Women are celebrating 100 years of suffrage, or the right to vote, so what better way to celebrate than heading to the polls?! Black men won the right to vote slightly earlier, in 1869, but with poll taxes and other Jim Crow laws, most weren’t able to vote as a practical matter until the 24th Amendment in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act 1965. We can show our gratitude to these civil rights heroes by voting in every election.
- In many places around the world, voting still isn’t an option, especially for women.
- In 1971, the voting age was lowered to 18, but our young adults are still the most underrepresented group of actual voters. Registering and voting once you turn 18 is a great start to being a lifelong voter! And young adults have specific needs and priorities that may not be shared by older voters, so showing up and using your voice is one way to make sure our elected representatives address these concerns.
- Voting helps to select the people who make decisions that impact your family and everyday life. Too many people only vote for President, Congress, Governor, etc., but positions like School Board and Mayor are equally important!
- Voting is how we can communicate what is important to us, and how we want our leaders to respond. If we don’t vote for what is best for us and our families, who will?
- If we don’t like the decisions our elected officials are making, the only way to change that is to vote! If we do like their choices, we also show that by voting.
- The “winner” of the 2016 presidential election was actually… “Did Not Vote.” This article has a shocking map showing that only in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Colorado were more votes given to an actual candidate instead of “Did Not Vote.” (The Electoral College would have been a landslide for candidate “Did Note Vote,” with the final totals being Trump-16, Clinton- 51, and Did Not Vote- 471.)
Here is a 100% true story that drives the point home: in the 2018 midterms, the district that neighbors my parents home in Virginia ended in a dead-even tie. Seriously. And to up the stakes, this result would determine if there was a literal 50-50 split in the state House of Delegates, or if one party would have a one-seat majority. It doesn’t get more high stakes than that. Here’s where it gets wacky – the VA Constitution says that in the event of a tie, the winner is decided “by a lot.” No lie – they DREW A NAME OUT OF A BOWL. DRAWING NAMES chose this district’s representative in the statehouse. Don’t tell me one vote doesn’t matter!