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Children and Voting

When the November election rolls around, you will visit your polling place, step into a booth and cast your ballot in private. But if you’re a parent, chances are your privacy will be shared with a child who is tagging along with you.

And that, says Susan Jakes, PhD., is a good thing.

“When you make voting a family affair, you are passing along both the responsibility and the privilege of voting," says Jakes, a Specialist with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

While the trip to the polls is an important step in the voting process, you know – and your child should, too – that there’s more to casting a vote than simply marking a ballot.

By discussing the election during the weeks that lead up to Election Day, you can help your child discover such important lessons as what it takes to be a leader; what our local, state and national priorities are; what civic responsibility means; and the value of getting involved.

Here’s how you can involve your child in the voting process:

* Get critical. Pay attention to the flurry of political ads on television and together discuss the message each candidate is trying to get across.

* Share your opinions. Talking about why you vote and how you go about deciding how to vote is a good way to share what you value and why you think a certain party or leader can accomplish those things. By encouraging your child to express his or her opinion as well you give him or her a chance to develop critical thinking skills.

* Take them to the polls. Let them see what "one vote per person" looks like in action.

“Voting is the backbone of democracy," Jakes says. “By getting children involved, parents encourage civic involvement and citizenship."