Election Education

Two of my children are now old enough to be voting in their first presidential election this year. I have taught them since they were young that they needed to know their rights, because if they didn’t it would be easy for someone to take those rights away. The right to vote is hugely important, and my husband Scott and I both wanted to support Josh and Beth as they learned to exercise their right to vote. We decided the best way was to vote early on a day that Beth didn’t have to be at class and Josh didn’t have to be at work early. We went to the early voting site and stood in line for two hours waiting to vote. Scott and I tried to explain what to expect, but neither of us had ever voted early before so we described our usual electronic voting booths. Then we found out it was a paper ballot, so we told them to tuck the electronic voting information away in their memories for a future voting time! Since the paper ballot involves filling in the ovals, and Josh and Beth have been students long enough to recall that process from standardized testing, filling out the forms was simple to do. (I had the urge to tell them “Fill in the circle completely and make your mark heavy and dark” just like when I administer the California achievement test.) The actual process of voting didn’t take that long, and then we had the opportunity for further education about the process. Josh noticed that his name “Joshua” was printed out as “Joshud”, but was assured that it wouldn’t affect his vote and his ballot was still valid. Beth discovered that her middle initial was incorrect, as was her address on the pre-printed sticker. When this was brought to the attention of voting officials, we found out that there is another person living in our county with the same first and last name as Beth, but fortunately with a different middle initial. The ballot Beth filled out was voided (the other person had already voted early, too) and Beth got to fill out a new ballot with her correct information. Beth was faster at voting the second time around, and it was a learning experience for us all and a good reminder to pay attention to the small details. If Beth hadn’t done so, her vote would not have been counted because her information that she wrote would not have matched that of the other person who shares her name.

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