I think the first election that I remember is 1988. I was almost 8 and my parent’s voting place was at my elementary school in the gym. I went with my mom and they had set up a kids voting booth and we got to vote on important things like Abe Lincoln vs George Wasahington and such. They let us use a real voting machine and that memory has stuck with me ever since. I turned 18 a little over a month after the 1998 elections and so I couldn’t vote then and mailed my ballot back home during college. So really my big first “going to the voting place” election was in 2004 when I was in med school. My voting place was a stones throw from my condo and it was literally 5 degrees outside when I went and got in line at 6:15AM. Classes started at 8 and I was hoping to get my voting done before classes. Luckily there were only about 12 people in line ahead of me and finally the people setting up the voting place had pity on all of us freezing and let us wait inside for the last little bit. Colorado has moved to mail in ballots, they mail us a ballot the week of October 15th and then we can either mail it back or drop it off at a multitude of different sites before or on Election Day. You can also use the voting machines up to a week before at certain sites or the day of. This year I filled out my mail in ballot and then drove it to a voting site where they checked my signature and gave me a sticker after I dropped it in the box, it took all of 2 minutes and I was back in the van headed home.
That first experience of getting to vote when I was 7 has stuck with me though and so on Election Day I set up the Armstrong Elections. And we were pretty legit….Official family ID cards, a Polling Judge and an ID man. I’m sure there is a more official name besides “ID man” but a certain 9 year old Polling Judge was indignant that anyone else would be called Polling Judge so the 6 year old was the ID man.
And the ballot was pretty awesome. We voting on everything from Family Mayor and Fire Chief to amendments and Ratifying our Family Mission Statement. I was a big fan of the amendment, the short version being that all the kids do the laundry and mommy doesn’t do it anymore, and I was pulling hard for that one.
After voting we had our own “Democracy Plaza” which was really just as cool and I’m pretty sure just as technologically advanced as NBCs version. As the results came in we had a good chance to talk about things. Someone was upset that their candidate didn’t win what they wanted them to win, and that gave us a chance to talk about voting and how everyone gets a chance to have their say. I played “We All Bleed The Same” which is a song that talks about how no matter what we look like on the outside we are all the same on the inside and we need to work together even though we may look/think/act differently. Leighton also learned an important lesson in that when he votes for something he has to take his vote seriously, he thought it would be funny to vote for the amendment on laundry, only to find out that mommy and daddy also approved it and so did Edric because he is easily swayed, and so the vote count was 4-3 in favor of passing it. Leighton said “but I was only joking”, and I told him each vote is for real and counts and so you need to take it seriously.
So it was good Civics/Government lessons all around. And then as we were all finished up Edric burst into tears. He was upset because he realized that he didn’t win. Granted he wasn’t even on the ballot but he was quite upset that he didn’t win…I told Clint (after consoling Edric and putting him down for a much needed nap) that I was going to cry too if I didn’t end up as the new governor in the morning too after the votes were counted….granted I hadn’t run, but still…….