Let your kid “vote” using a sample ballot

Leslie's tip for involving your toddler in the election:

My son is now 2 1/2 and wants to do everything and help with everything that his dad and I are doing. The other night, we were working on our absentee ballots and Will said, "I want to vote, too." I pulled out the sample ballots from our pamphlets, read him the list of candidates for President and he marked his choice with a crayon. It was an easy first lesson on the responsibility of each citizen to vote. He continued to "vote" for the rest of the candidates and propositions on the ballot, which will now become a part of his baby book :)

This hack deserves a little backstory. First of all, it comes from an old high school friend who I've spoken to maybe twice in the last twenty-odd years. (How cool is it that she reads Parent Hacks?) Second, she was Class President my freshman year! Isn't it obvious why we voted her in?

In Oregon, we vote by mail, and my kids are fascinated by the ballot and voter pamphlet. They watched two out of three debates and were surprisingly interested. And we've been talking quite a bit about all of the lawn signs supporting this or that candidate or proposition.

Is your child interested in the political hubub? How are you teaching him/her/them about the election?


  1. Alli says

    We have always made a point to take Fuller with us when we go vote. The first time he was about four weeks old and sleeping nicely in the Baby Bjorn. The election workers have seen him grow up over the years, it is sweet when they remember him.

    We also try to make it a family thing- all of us going together, so he sees both his Mom and Dad participating in the process.

  2. Duane says

    My wife and are I interested in different candidates, so my older daughter says that she likes both of them equally so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. My 4yr old daughter was very into “Heddary Quenlin” and doesn’t fully understand that she’s not in the race anymore (then again, does Heddary? :)) My 2yr old is just happy to be able to pronounce Barack Obama.

    To be fair, my oldest (6) does ask regular questions about what it means to be president, how one gets to be president, what happens if they do a bad job (apparently we re-elect them :-/), the whole term limits thing (“So even if he does a good job, somebody else still gets a turn because they might do an even better job?”) and so on.

  3. Mary says

    I’m a librarian, and in our children’s department they are running a children’s book character campaign for president. Kids come in, register to vote (they sign their name in a binder), they receive a ballot, and are directed first to a poster of candidate statements and then to a polling booth where they circle their choice. Running this year: Aslan, Dora the Explorer, Frog & Toad, and Curious George. Afterwards they get a sticker that says “I voted! Kids Vote, too!”

    I’m pulling for Frog & Toad.

  4. Heidi says

    My little girl is only 3, but she overheard my husband and me talking about the candidates and asked what we meant. My husband (brilliant father that he is) was quick to reassure her that although we like one person better, it doesn’t mean the other one is a bad person. He told her we think the person that we like will do a better job. (I’m not sure I agree that the other guy is a good guy, but I think it’s a smart way of handling it with a preschooler!)

  5. Duane says

    Forgive me, Mary, but this is too good a chance to pass up. No offense intended, just going for the easy joke…

    >Running this year: Aslan,

    The Christian Conservative Candidate

    >Dora the Explorer

    The Hispanic Candidate

    >Frog & Toad

    Cursed Liberals supporting their unholy unions! Marriage should be defined as being between Frog and Frog only!

    >and Curious George.

    Has no one told W that he can’t have a third term?


  6. Elana says

    We vote, but live overseas, so we’re slightly removed from the election fever (I said slightly). Our ballots arrived, we went through everything with our 6 year old. He knew about the election as we talk about it in front of him and answer any questions he has as balanced as we can. (Unfortunately, he’ll never be allowed to be president, as he is a citizen born outside the US.) He was with us as we marked our ballots, and we went through everything that’s going to happen with the ballot. I’m very surprised how interested he is with the election, but what else can you have when your parents met at the Maine Democratic State Convention in 1988?

    He did, however, know how we were going to vote, as I think we’re the only car in Dublin with an “Obama ’08” bumper sticker on it. :-D