Mom’s Guide to Changing the World: Make Voting a Family Activity

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Whatever your beliefs, and whoever you’d like to see in power, November 6th is an opportunity not just to cast your vote, but to make it a family affair. Teach your children about the role we all play in a democracy and how they can make the best use of their democratic right to vote, with these simple, yet effective family-friendly ideas.

Mid-term elections are important because they are LOCAL.  These candidates directly affect our community. People you vote for make the decisions affecting our daily lives including…

  • Updating parks
  • Repairing roads
  • Funding schools and education including elementary schools, early education, and tech schools and Universities
  • Community Safety
  • Workplace rules (including whether or not breaks or overtime are paid)
  • How to pay for all the above and more

Involve your kids in voting

Read books about the history of voting, and why it’s important.  Brown County Library has some great options.

Talk to your children about what issues are important to them?  What will help your family and your community to thrive?

  • How clean the air and water should be?
  • Updated playground equipment at the parks?
  • More book choices at the library?
  • Protecting animals?
  • Making sure all their friends have food at home?  

Try to associate their priorities with local laws and actions, how kids can impact their world.

Teach children how to think critically.   

Depending on their age, ask what’s important to them, and why.  For older kids, ask who they would vote for and why.

Now’s a great time for parents to demonstrate good listening skills and encourage kids to express their opinion, but also to support WHY they think a certain way.  Encourage them to support their ideas with real facts and science from reliable, unbiased sources. Teach them how to look up the accuracy of the information. How to question the accuracy of political ads, and understand that political ads (like most commercials) are biased and often only tell a fraction of the story.  If your child is interested in psychology, talk about how ads use emotionally-charged words to get people to think and vote impulsively, instead of making an informed decision.  

Practice using reliable sources check accuracy. https://www.politifact.com/ is just one source for verifying claims.  Avoid obviously biased/partisan websites and resources.

Look up recent laws about issues that are important to you or your kids. Here are some recent laws affecting families in Wisconsin that did or did not pass. How did the candidates vote?  Do you agree?

For teenagers, show them how to look up, read, and understand the actual bill.  Read the actual research study that a candidate quoted.

Teach decision-making skills:

Look up who’s on your ballot – Just enter your address on this website: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/previewmyballot

Pick 2-3 issues that are important to you.  Think about what will help improve the lives of your family and the lives of other people in the neighborhood and community.  

  • What will help your community thrive?  
  • Thoughts on good jobs and education?
  • Concerns about healthcare?
  • Have you driven over any potholes lately?  
  • How clean should the air and water be?  
  • What about investments in the library and city parks?

Research the candidates

Check out their voting history – Actions speak louder than words.

Check their website.  Ignore campaign promises and focus on the basic concepts.

Contact the candidates – Email, the phone, fax make this relatively easy.  ASK your questions. Not sure what to ask? http://www.asklearnvote.org/, a Wisconsin-focused website, offers some example questions to ask.

Do they respond?  Does their response sound like they heard you?  

Don’t forget referendums! 

Some ballots will include referendums.  Be sure you understand the wording of the question so you know if you want to answer yes or no.

Once you’ve made your decisions, on your calendar for Nov 6th, jot down which candidates you want to vote for.  That way you won’t have to re-research on Voting Day! You’ll also be confident in your decision, in case any of those awkward political conversations come up.  

Once you pick your candidates, make sure you are registered to vote!

Tip:  Just because you’ve voted in the past does NOT mean you are still registered!  People are often removed from the registers for a variety of reasons.  

Go to https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/MyVoterInfo to verify that you are registered

You definitely need to double-check and probably re-register if…

  • You’ve moved
  • You’ve changed your name
  • It’s been awhile since you’ve voted.

Although you can wait and register ON election day, early is best.  

Find your polling place https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/FindMyPollingPlace  If it’s unfamiliar, look it up on Google Maps.

If it’s not easy/convenient to get to on a Tuesday, then vote early!  

You can request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you, or you can stop in to your municipal clerk’s office and vote absentee in person! You may need to call to verify hours, when you can early vote. Learn more about Early voting, what to bring with you, where to go: http://www.asklearnvote.org/early-voting.html

You MUST have a photo id to vote in Wisconsin!  Check this list to make sure your photo ID will work – https://www.bringitwisconsin.com/do-i-have-right-photo-id.  If you need an ID, you can get a free one from the DMV, even if you don’t drive.

Last step – Actually remember to vote:

  • Set a reminder on your phone (once you research who to vote for, put their names in the reminder)
  • Help out a friend and text her to remind her to vote.
  • Bring your kids WITH you to the polls.  Usually, you can be in and out pretty quick, and it’s great for your kids to learn the process of voting.
  • Read books about voting – Need book ideas?  Here’s a list of 17 books to inspire kids to change the world
  • Have a Voting Party!  My daughter LOVES parties, for any rhyme or reason.  Throw up some balloons and streamers and pick up a cake. Find excuses to vote all day. Vote on parent-approved candidates for activities, what flavor cake to get, what color streamers,  what to eat for supper.

IMPORTANT: Encourage everyone to say WHY they made their choice ( e.g. why green streamers would be better than purple). Encourage others to listen to opposing viewpoints.  

Celebrate that we even HAVE the right to vote, and the importance of educated voting– knowing who and what you are voting for and WHY.  

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Beth Dolar grew up in south central Wisconsin and has lived in the Green Bay / De Pere area for almost 15 years. She has a Masters degree from UW-Stevens Point and is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist in own private practice – Speech Spark Services, LLC. She is married and has two spirited children who attend a local Green Bay elementary school. Diapering frustrations five years ago led her to start her own company providing diaper variety packs – Diaper Dabbler, LLC. Besides being a mother, wife, and SLP, Beth is an artist, writer, reader, feminist, very-amateur gardener, researcher, introvert, and nature-lover. (Though not necessarily in that order!!) Read Beth's Posts