Decades ago when I turned 18, what thrilled me most about becoming a legal adult was the opportunity and responsibility to vote. Sure, I could have purchased cigarettes or lottery tickets or other vices that come along with reaching eighteen years of age, but what mattered most to me, thanks to my parents’ education in civic duty, was participating in an election. My parents had impressed upon me as a child the importance of voting and being an informed voter on issues and candidates.
I also knew firsthand the excitement and obligation of politics by serving as high school class president for four years. So, when my birthday aligned with the presidential election that year, I was excited to cast my first “real” vote. I’m sure by now you’re rolling your eyes a bit. Can someone really be that excited about voting? Yes, but I’m not a complete dork because I also did buy a pack of cigarettes but never smoked them. After all, I was 18.
My excitement in voting hasn’t wavered, and this year is no different save voting absentee as opposed to voting in person. I’ve loved voting at the polls – it adds to the democratic excitement of the day. However, the coronavirus has put a kink in those traditions, yet I still wore my “I Voted” sticker after I completed my ballot. Sure, only my family observed my sticker, which the baby promptly tried to eat, but it still felt good. Four years ago, I took my son to the polls to watch me vote. And this year I talked to him about voting by mail and the types of leaders I want to see running our government as I completed my ballot at the kitchen table.
Although he’s just 5 he does know some of the candidates running for office, as we’re lucky to have friends who want to improve our town, our community, and our world. Just as my parents discussed local matters at the dinner table with my brother and me when we were kids, I hope to share my love for democracy with my children. What we’ve witnessed the past four years, and especially this year in particular, is how much elections impact our daily lives, from how our local area gets developed or responds to a public health crisis to what occurs in our nation’s capital. It all matters, and at this critical time in our country, it’s crucial that we, as informed and engaged citizens, vote.
Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.
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