Valley News -

By Kim Harris
Managing Editor 

Being an informed voter is the best way to affect change


Last updated 5/24/2018 at 10:24am

Every couple of years I get the pleasure of reminding my children about the responsibility of voting. Apparently, those lectures where their little eyes gloss over and they appear to be incredibly bored have paid off as all of them who are old enough are now registered voters and can carry on an intelligent conversation as to which candidate they prefer and why.

We always stressed the importance of voting to our children as we feel it’s part of our responsibility as citizens to have a say in who will lead our country, our state and our city, as well as to have input on things like tax measures, school issues and even plastic bag bans. We looked at talking to our children about voting as just another step in the parenting process, just like discipline and forcing them to eat those dreaded lima beans.

I remember going to the polls with my parents in the old green Dodge Dart. My sisters and I would eagerly wait in line to see what went on behind those curtains separating the booths at Grandview Elementary School in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, where we lived during the first few years of my life.

Much to my disappointment, I never got to see behind the curtain until I was much older, 18 to be exact.

When it was my parent’s turn, my sisters and I were told to sit on the bleachers and behave ourselves while our parents went and did their civic duty.

Back in those days you did what you were told, so we went and sat.

What we did while we waited probably couldn’t be counted as behaving though as there was lots of hair pulling and pinching involved.

After our parents came out of their booths and deposited their ballots into the ballot box, I remember asking my dad who he voted for.

“I am not going to tell you that because it’s none of your business,” he said as he reminded me that the two things you never talk about in polite company were politics and religion.

I never asked my parents who they voted for after that, but it always kind of bothered me that no one would explain to me why my dad wouldn’t tell me who he voted for.

Once I had my own children, I vowed to myself, I would make sure that they understood politics.

I kept that vow to myself. When my boys were little, I took them to the polls with me, the curtains were long gone and instead of a paper ballot, most places I voted at used machines, except for my current polling place which only has a handful of them.

Now that I am older, I understand why my dad said what he said to me. We talked about it once and he said he doesn’t ever want to influence someone’s decision as to who to vote for. It makes sense to me, so when my own children would ask me who I voted for, I never told them. Instead of just telling them, “it’s none of your business,” I would tell them that I couldn’t tell them because it was up to them to do their own research and choose a candidate to vote for.

When they were little, they found great fun in predicting the winner based on looks or some other worthless system that could only be devised in the mind of a 7-year-old. But, as they got older, things got interesting. We would look at all the candidates together and sit and discuss their choices, who they liked, who they didn’t and why. They thought it was great fun to have these political debates with their dad and myself, I did too.

The best thing to come out of it all was my children learned how to be informed voters, something that is sorely needed in this country.

In my opinion, being an informed voter is the best way to make change happen in our country and if a bunch of millennials and Gen Z youngsters can do their research and become informed voters, I think we all can too.

But hey, it’s only my opinion.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at [email protected]


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