Election Day as a holiday

Published 9:58 pm Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back when I was a child, I remember going to the local school with my mother on Election Day. This was always an exciting time, mainly because I was too young to go to school and any excuse to visit “the big kids” was exciting. Plus, if I played my cards just right, there might be a trip to Sneaky Pete’s hot dogs in it for me and going out to eat was a really big treat when I was little.

The act of voting was secondary.

My mother would take my hand and lead me into the gymnasium where they had tables arranged at the front. She would sign her name and then go to the partitioned table to vote. I always asked her to let me vote for her but she never would.

The first time I remember going to the elementary school gymnasium to vote was when Jimmy Carter was elected. I can still see the red, white and blue bunting on the tables and remember following my mom as she voted. I don’t remember if we went to Sneaky Pete’s, but I’d like to think we did.

Fast forward a decade or so. This time, I was the one heading to the polling place, and this time I went without my mom. It was 1988 and George H. W. Bush faced Democrat Michael Dukakis. I was nervous, even though I had been to the polls before. I felt strange asking for a ballot and then marking my vote, just like an adult. It amazed me that voting was that simple and that my vote counted as much as the next person’s. It was years later, of course, only after George W. Bush faced Al Gore that I realized that sometimes, it doesn’t.

Ever since then, I make it a point to vote whenever the opportunity is presented. I believe it’s our right and our responsibility. I also believe it’s our responsibility to learn about the issues and candidates we’re asked to consider. I always wonder when I’m standing at the polls if some of the people there know who the candidates are or if they simply flip a coin for a decision.

One day, I hope Sutton will go with me when I vote. I will hold her hand and show her where we sign our names and then take her to the partitioned table and show her how we mark our vote.

Then, I will take her over to the person who hands out the “I voted” stickers, something they didn’t have when I was little. I will give her my sticker and she can wear it all day.

Then, she and I will go out to lunch and talk about what we just did and maybe, one day, she will remember the time when she and her mom exercised one of their most basic rights.

It’s just a shame, though, there’s not a Sneaky Pete’s around.