I’m a firm believer that all families should participate together in the electoral process, particularly in Presidential election years. Since our oldest son was born in 2003 he has sat through every debate and been to the polls with me each time I voted. The last Presidential election in 2008 we pulled our son out of Kindergarten and made a whole day out of going to vote as a family. I even let him cast “my” vote for me in the booth so he felt more involved in the process. Afterward we went to lunch and then came home to prepare a buffet of appetizers to be consumed as we watched the votes come in from across the country.
Our active role in politics in our family has led to our eldest son being very interested in politics. He watches the debates and comments intelligently at the age of 9, no shock since at the age of 5 he had a better grasp than many adults I know. He’s even made his own protest signs defending his beliefs. He impresses me on a daily basis with his excitement about how our country works and his thirst for knowledge that comes from deep within his heart.
Each year we take the time to educate ourselves and actively discuss what we believe, even when we disagree, about the candidates and their stances. We watch our own state’s elections as well following very closely the races of Governor, Senators, and Representatives. Election night is something to celebrate, even when we don’t always agree.
There is nothing more precious when you live in a truly free country than having the ability to go out and exercise that freedom in voting. While many countries “vote”, their elections are fixed and those voting know their vote won’t count. There is outright cruelty at the “polling places” where people are blocked from voting if they are not going to vote the way of the current regime or the regime wanting to take over.
Each and every time we as a country vote, we make a decision to move one step closer toward our freedom, or one step further from it. If we choose not to vote, then that choice to move away from freedom is chosen for us in lieu of our choosing to fight for the freedoms won for us by generations of American blood spilled on battlefields around the world.
This year, our family is preparing. We've watched the debates and engaged in them together. Granted, the 6 month old’s job has mostly been to scream at the TV because there aren't any commercials on which are far more entertaining to watch. We plan to go and vote as a family on November 6th. We plan to go and spend the day together. My husband is actually taking vacation from work so we can celebrate our country and her freedoms.
This year our son wanted to be part of the tallying process again. As the results roll in across the country he is responsible for coloring in the charts and keeping the family updated in who is winning/losing. We all watch the coverage together, but this gives him a special piece of memorabilia for each debate and helps him to see what happens. The first year we did this, in 2008, he tracked just the Presidential Electoral Votes – all 538 of them!
In 2010, we tracked as the House of Representatives and Senate seats were filled and filled in the same charts. Tracking two was a bit more of a challenge for him so I would write the numbers down on pink and blue sticky notes respectively so he could color in the right number.
This time we’re tracking all three simultaneously. To make things a bit simpler for you to follow along at home too, we’re offering this free PDF at Raising LittleSaints. All you need to complete the activity is a red marker and a blue marker. The Senate seats that are not up for vote are already marked for you. For those with younger children, I highly recommend using stickers. Either red and blue dots or even red and blue star stickers are a cheap “investment” for the return. Just so you know you will need 1,073 (538 electoral votes, 435 in the House of Representatives, 100 Senators) stickers to complete all three charts if you go all white so plan ahead! If you are using the already colored in version of the Senate chart you will need 1,006 (67 seats already filled and not up for election). I would plan on having at least 600 red and 600 blue on hand in case we see a super majority sweep on one side or another.
From our home to yours, Happy Election Day. Embrace your freedom. Rise above the partisan politics and see November 6, 2012 for exactly what it is: a living, breathing example of our Constitution in practice 225 years after it was signed by this country’s founding fathers. Be the King. VOTE.