The twins have come with me to vote in every election since they were born. When they were newborns, just out of the NICU, I put them in a double baby carrier and walked down to the polling place feeling like an opossum. When they were toddlers, they ran in two different directions as I tried to quickly enter my choices. When they were young kids, they shouted out my voting choices to everyone else in the room. When they entered preschool, they entertained the other voters standing in line, bouncing up and down while they clapped and shouted, “My mommy is an Obama-mama-mama-mama!” And in elementary school, they thoughtfully discussed marriage rights with other voters as we waited in line.
Throughout it all, the one constant was that I had them press the button for all of the major offices: president, senator, congressperson, governor. (And, later on when they had more patience, all the offices up for election.) One child would push the button, and I would erase the vote. Then the other child would push the button, and I would erase the vote. And finally I would push the button and keep the vote. Even when they were newborns, I touched their tiny fingers with their translucent nails to the machine interface. For 11 years, this is the way we’ve always voted — primary or general election — each of us able to say we participated in the experience.
And then Maryland went to a paper ballot this year.
When I heard about it, I started fretting. What were we going to do? I couldn’t have them fill in my card and erase it. You had to use ink or my vote wouldn’t be counted at all. Everyone hold the pen at the same time?
We finally decided to split the tic-tac-sized bubble into thirds, each of us filling in a tiny sliver of the ballot. We practiced a few times at home. Once we trusted that no one was going to fill in more than their share of the bubble, we went to the polling place and continuously passed the pen so we could each vote for each person. This year, we aligned to all want the same person for each office. Let’s see how many elections we’re able to do this.
I’ve always taken them with me because I want to lead by example and hopefully have them follow suit later in life. I want them to vote. I don’t want them to apathetically throw up their hands and say, “Everyone sucks, there’s no point in voting.” I don’t want them to toss away this yearly experience as if it’s an empty candy bar wrapper. This is their right, and there are so many people who don’t have this right. People who live in this country and are affected by the laws but can’t have their voice heard.
If they don’t like the laws, I want the twins to change the lawmakers. Better yet, I want them to be the lawmakers or help the lawmakers or report on the lawmakers. I want them to be involved with life; to tangle with it, not just allow it to flow passed them.
People, get out there and vote this fall. Go vote this spring if your primary is still coming up in May or June, but, moreover, get yourself into a voting booth for the general election. Make sure your voice is heard.