Today is Election Day 2020. It is and feels like a very important day that many are anxious about. This is a bonus Fakequity blog post to remind people to turn in those ballots if you have a mail-in ballot or to get out and vote if you are eligible and able to. Stay safe as you vote – wear your facemask, give each other space (literally and figuratively), and check in on your friends and family to make sure they have a voting plan.
To bring a little levity to election day 2020, friends shared their stories of learning how to vote. I hope you’ll share your voting stories back with us, firstname.lastname@example.org or post it on one of our social media sites. The more we talk-story about voting the more we create change.
School and Mock Elections
Many people shared that civics education in school is important. Several people talked about mock elections in schools where they held elections around the presidential election. My friend Stacy said she didn’t know either candidate (she was in elementary school) so she went home and asked her parents who they planned to vote for. Nisha shared how she voted in a mock election and when her candidate won in real life she was elated. Teachers and educators have incredible influence over civic participation. I hope all of my teacher-friends feel supported in talking about elections. I also hope we as parents support our teachers in talking about civics, including supporting educators if having open and honest conversations.
Family and Generational Lessons
Another friend, K.Y., shared how her first election was in 2012. As an immigrant her parents didn’t have the right to vote, but her parents still instilled a value of civic participation and patriotism. They wanted to make sure they were contributing to the community. In K.Y.’s words: “Looking back we always talked about paying taxes with the enthusiasm people talk about voting now. As the patriotic thing we do as a family to contribute to the country.” In 2012 she sat down with her mail-in ballot filled it out and mailed it back.
My friend Brooke grew up in a family where politics were always front and center. Her father was mayor of a small town. Today, one of her favorite books to hand out is One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson (young adult version).
Cady shared how her dad took her and her brother to the polling station and they had a special station set up to allow kids to “vote” on their own machine. We also shared a memory of trying to understand the Electoral College and how sometimes a vote doesn’t count. I was telling Cady I tried to explain the electoral college to my grade school kid and didn’t get very far with the explaining and understanding, especially when we also teach “every vote is important,” and “make every vote count,” but with the Electoral College the popular vote doesn’t count as much.
Differences in Politics
Sara shared how eye-opening it was to learn several of her co-workers voted for Bush, despite living in Seattle. This shattered her assumption that Republicans were confined to small towns and rural areas. Now she lives in Portland, I wonder what the update is from that part of the Northwest. Susan, a former colleague who taught me many life lessons, started voting in the 1968 election and hasn’t missed an election since then. She was tired of watching injustices against women and people of color. Linda shared how her parents were secretive about who they voted for, regardless this instilled a lesson of the importance of voting.
Community Affair and Hope
Vivian is from Australia where voting is really simple – show up, they marked your name out of the book of registered voters. It is a compulsory exercise with rank-choice voting vs. the US silly system of winner take all system (watch the Netflix Patriot Act with Hassan Minjah “We’re Doing Elections Wrong” to understand the topic). Vivian was so excited to see her first grade teacher voting at the church across from the school.
My dear friend Arigin shared how the Obama candidacy “unearthed a feeling of hope that was then followed by a momentous surge of energy from every classmate!” Many of her generation used that election to learn how to be vocal, influence others, and learn about the voting process. Arigin said the following year she VOTED for the first time, in her words: “Then hope happened!” These early years shaped her political values and the importance of voting.
My Voting Story
My mom took me with her to the polling station at a church not too far from our house. It was a state holiday, Hawaii made presidential election days state holidays — something I wholly recommend. I was young between 4-6 years old. We stood in line, got her ballot, and walked into the booth with a a State of Hawaii cloth flag on the front. The voting machine was a punch card machine (the kind that allowed for the now infamous hanging chads). I was playing at her feet looking at everyone else’s feet. I must have nagged her to let me try so she did. I pressed the lever then she said: “You voted for the wrong person,” and had a look of panic. Who knows maybe I threw an election in Hawaii, probably not. That is how I learned how to vote.
Regardless of who wins this 2020 election we have a duty to talk about voting, elections, and to influence future voters. Here is your 2020 voting action plan:
- Vote if you can
- If you can’t vote, explain why to someone so they can vote with your interest in mind
- Talk about the act of voting with someone else, we need to make this a community wide activity
- Push for voter reform to allow more people to vote (e.g. immigrants, people involved with the justice system, POCs, etc.). Work for voter reform to allow vote by mail.
- Repeat these steps often – as the stories above show, voting is ongoing and generational. We need to keep talking about voting.
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