Civics 101


You may have missed it, but we had an election in Wisconsin this past Tuesday, Feb. 15, an important one because it was a primary for a Supreme Court justice position. When I picked my daughter up from preschool in the afternoon, I explained to her that we wouldn’t be going straight home because I needed to go vote.

“Vote? What’s vote?” she asked as she climbed into her car seat.

“Well adults get to choose their leaders. Everybody gets one choice, or vote.”

I as we drove to the polling place I explained that I would get a piece of paper called a ballot, and that I would make a mark (cast my vote) on it next to the name of the person who I felt would be the best leader. I would put my paper in a counting machine, and then once all the papers were in, someone would see who got the most votes. That person would win.

“Oh,” she said from her position of authority in the backseat, “check marks are good and x’s are bad.”

“Yes, that’s right, sort of.” I was pleased she was catching on. “When you get old enough, you will get to vote. And you know what is really neat?”

“What?”

“Because we live in the United States of America, I can tell you to eat your vegetables, to go to bed, do your homework, even give you a TIME OUT or ground you for life, but I can not tell you how to vote. Nobody can. Your vote is your own.”

“When I’m old enough I get to vote.”

“Yep.”

“The painter is a bad guy. He’s not very nice.”

“The painter? He’s not nice? What does he do?”

“He goes around putting big X’s on everybody’s vote.”

“He does? Well, that isn’t very nice.”

We got to the polling station, and we read the word “V-O-T-E” on the blue and white “vote here” sign just outside the door. My daughter got a Pooh Bear sticker, and I got my ballot. After I had cast my ballot, I said to my daughter, let’s head home and go make dinner.

Once we were out the door she turned to me and said, “After dinner can we go vote?”

“We just did vote. I made my mark on my piece of paper and put it in the counting machine, remember?”

“No! We have to go for a ride, on one of those.” And she pointed to a boat.

(c) 2011 Michele Arduengo. All Rights Reserved.

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