What Parents Need To Know When Heading to Polls During Midterm Elections

When we vote, we actively choose which version of the future world we want our children to live in.

By Jennifer Rosen Heinz

Election day is Tuesday, November 8th, and it’s more important now than ever to make sure that you make your voice heard. Midterm elections will help decide the balance of seats in congress, as well as many other important positions up for grabs.

 The truth of the matter is that as parents, the future of this country is in our hands. Nothing could be more important than making sure that our voices are heard and our priorities enacted. When we vote, we actively choose which version of the future world we want our children to live in.

Joy Ann Reid, host of MSNBC’s The ReidOut, tells Parents to first be mindful of the state you live in. “Go online to your Secretary of State’s office as soon as possible and check on the rules for voting. Many of those rules have changed, especially in states where politicians passed laws to limit access to the ballot for certain groups they consider unfavorable to their re-elections.”

Here are other tips and considerations when heading to the polls:

Know How to Vote in Your State

Are you registered to vote? Do you know your polling place? How are you going to technically cast your ballot? Many states have enacted stricter voting laws since just two years ago. Places like TexasGeorgiaWisconsin, and others have limited early voting, or limited the use of ballot drop box collection.

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Federal law requires that your employer give you time during your workday to vote, though you may need to let them know in advance. Depending on where you are, be prepared for a line and the weather. Bring a drink and/or food with you if you anticipate a longer wait.

“Make sure you and your voting-aged kids walk in with their ID, in case they are required, and if you can, use the online services available in most states to double-check that you and they are on the voter rolls.”

Bring Your Child

It’s never too young to start instilling in your child the importance of fulfilling their civic duty. Poll workers are generally really excited to see kids at the polling station, and are very willing to share an “I voted” sticker and encouragement. Start a tradition with your kids that after they vote with you, you go and get donuts together, or some other special treat.

Know Who You Want to Vote for Before Showing Up

We’re not just talking about federal races like for your senator. In the past couple of years, we have seen just how important even hyper-local races can be in determining not just what laws are passed, but what laws are enforced.

Think Local

School boards have been the front lines of book banstransgender civil rights, the teaching of racism and history, and even the presence of guns in schools. Highly organized parent groups have mobilized to cajole and influence school boards, and in many cases, to try and recall school board members, or to elect new ones. School boards have become ideological battlegrounds.

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Even if you aren’t up-to-date on the ins and outs of your local school board candidates, it’s important to do a little research before you head to the voting booth. Check out reporting on candidate forums in your local paper, read endorsement letters to the editor, and ask friends and colleagues what they know about candidates. Find a friend whose values and perspective you trust, and ask their opinion about who they will be voting for. A little research will help you make sure your vote is meaningful and aligned with your values for yourself and your kids’ futures.

Your state representatives and governor can also play a huge role in issues which might at first seem like federal, not state issues. Nowhere has that been more evident than in how states have recently moved to protect or restrict the availability of abortion. The very basic human right to choose whether and how to become a parent has been thrown into the hands of states—to often disastrous consequences.

Your Vote Really Does Matter

However trite it may sound, if your vote didn’t matter, so many people wouldn’t spend so much time trying to sway your vote, wear you down, tempt you with cynicism, and make it more difficult to exercise your right to vote.

Parents like you have every reason to not only vote, but to get involved. It’s not too late. In the final days before an election, campaigns still need for volunteers to help get out the vote. Thanks to technology, volunteering has become easier than ever, and some volunteering is easy to do with kids in tow. Whether it’s going door to door to drop campaign literature or general voting information, or texting voters to making sure they have a plan to vote, there’s a way for almost everyone to make a difference.

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Your vote is your child’s future. It’s your voice for the world you want them to grow up in. Every single election counts. One vote doesn’t always determine the outcome of an election, but if you add up single votes, they absolutely do. Commit to voting, and then make sure that your friends and family vote. Make sure they know what is at stake for you, for themselves, and for your kids’ future.

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