News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

October 19, 2010

MS. TAKES: Establish a family tradition of voting

TERRE HAUTE — My Best Friend and I betook ourselves to the Courthouse recently to cast an early vote in the fall election. As we were heading in to do our civic duty as American citizens, we met a young family coming out. The wife was carrying a toddler and her husband had a slightly older child by the hand.

You can’t teach children too young to respect the privilege of voting, and what better way than to take them to the polls and set an example of what it means to participate in a democracy. Those who say they don’t vote because their vote doesn’t count are really saying that their candidate of choice didn’t make the cut.

Anyway, I cannot remember the first time I went to the polls with Mom. Ed must have been along too since he was even younger than I. I DO remember the mystery of going into a little cubicle with Mom and having her draw a curtain while she made marks on a paper ballot. I remember asking about all those people outside handing us little cards and little gifts with someone’s name plastered prominently on the present.

“It means, Elizabeth Ann,” she told me, “that those people want you to vote for them.”

“And are you going to vote for all of them?” I asked — naive, wasn’t I?

“You have to choose,” she said. “Some are running for the same office and you must pick only one.”

I didn’t see anyone actually running, but I took her word for it.

Before every election — and my parents never failed to vote — Dad would spread a sample ballot out on the dining room table and mark his choices. He told Mom that she should vote for those people too or “your vote will cancel out my vote.” I didn’t understand why his vote was more important than her vote, so I asked her — once the curtain was closed — whether she voted as Dad directed.

“That’s why they have curtains on the voting booth,” she responded while picking up her pen.

It was my family tradition as well as a tradition in my BF’s family, that voting was not only a privilege, it was a duty. So, we always go to the polls and vote as we think best for the majority of citizens in our city, state and nation. I hope every eligible voter will do likewise.

And, I hope that the two children we met with their parents, have learned that voting is important and will establish that as a tradition in their families.

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Liz Ciancone
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