Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Civics Lesson

Voting has always been something we try to do in our house but this year has placed a real importance on everyone getting out to cast the vote.

Earlier this year, my brother-in-law decided to throw his hat in the ring and run for city council.  He didn't have any political experience but he truly believed that our area in a good place to buy a home and raise a family.  The area we live in was the area we all grew up in (yes, we don't stray to far from home) and we want to make sure that this remains a nice, safe area for ourselves and our families.  I never knew how dirty the political game could be.  We supported his campaign and offered our support at formal and informal "meet the candidate" sessions.  It was amazing to see the "plants" that would be sent to these meetings to plant seeds of doubt and do recon on the opposition.  My BIL always took the higher ground during these sessions and on the very public attacks on his character and his family on the Internet.

We all gathered for the watch party the day of the election to see what the results would bring.  Voter turnout was low (always is for this type of election) but we felt confident that we had made a difference and that people were ready for a change. I was the first one to find the results out online and I had to break the news - he lost the election.  It wasn't a blow out either - he lost the election by 8 votes.  4+4=8.  You could count the difference on your own hands.  In some ways I think that was worse than losing by a mile.  You start thinking about who else you could have talked to, who else we could have called, what else could you have done to sway someone to vote for you or to just get out and vote?

So when the current election started to pick up speed, I knew that I had to make sure that we got out and voted.  I know that one or two votes one way or another CAN make a difference.  I started working on Skaterboy to persuade him to register to vote before the elections.  He didn't want to vote.  He refused to register.  I reminded him of his uncle's campaign and said "If you were old enough, you could have voted and made a difference for him".  I don't know what made him change his mind, but he finally registered to vote.  Thank god for Motor Voter registration!

So today was the big day.  We had a sample ballot hanging on the fridge.  I think it freaked him out because it was so long.  Before we left the house today, we went over the candidates and his choices.  I explained how the voting process works.  We filled out the sample ballot so he had a "cheat sheet" to go from.  Our ballot was 10 pages long.  I went with him at lunch to guide him through the process. 

We got lucky.  There was no one in line when we arrived and we managed to make it through the entire process in 15 minutes.  That was from door to door too! He even admitted that the whole thing wasn't bad and was pretty easy.  In reality, it really helped me out to walk him through the process.  We reviewed the candidates and their platforms.  We looked at the amendments, charters and issues and made decisions on what we thought was the best choice.  Bottom line, we went to the polls informed and ready to cast our ballots.  I don't think I have ever been that informed about the ballot and what I wanted to say before.  Thanks Skaterboy for educating me on the process, too!

I bet if you ask Skaterboy what he learned most from today he would tell you the least likely thing you would expect.  He would tell you that the free coffee at Starbucks and the free doughnut from Krispy Kreme was worth the effort.  So much so, that he visited several local Starbuck's today for his free coffee!!  Oh well, I guess I can't hold out too much hope for all of the Civics lessons to sink in on one day!


Mama Martha said...

J called from college yesterday sooo excited that he voted! Of course he didn't know any of the local names because I had not thought to help him out. Way to go MG, you did great!

NV said...

Nice! This is the way that the younger generation helps us to save the country. :-)

MonkeyGirl said...

Mama Martha - welcome back! I missed you. I have to give the credit for the ballot idea to monkey mamma. Those teachers think of everything!

NV - SB actually went into his room and watched the election results of his own free will. I was so proud of him!