“I Voted!” stickers are the coolest thing ever

“I Voted!” stickers are the coolest thing ever

My grandmother was born three years after women won the right to vote. I say that out loud to myself, and I feel like I’m talking gibberish. I don’t think very often about a time when women couldn’t vote. It’s hard for me to even imagine.

Ever since I turned 18, I’ve voted in every election I could get to. And, ever since my daughter was born, I have taken her with me. When she was 10, I let her fill in the bubble on the ballot for Barack Obama. She has worn 17 years worth of “I Voted!” stickers.

On Tuesday, she and I both went to the polls. Because she will turn 18 before the Presidential election, she is allowed to vote in the primary. It took an hour to convince the election judges of this, to register her, and to let her fill in her ballot.

I was beyond irritated. Three of the election judges assured me she couldn’t vote at 17, even calling the downtown office. As I explained with increasing irritation, their website clearly explains the rules. I even had a print out from their page that verified it.

After about 30 minutes of a tug of war in which they conceded that we knew what we were talking about, we went home to get more evidence that she lives in our Precinct.

As we got in the car, I was fuming and realizing for the first time how hard our country makes it for folks to register to vote.

My daughter, who can’t deal with my irritated self, wanted to give up and register later in order to annoy me less, but then she said, “I feel like I owe it to other women to vote today.”

I think it’s the proudest I have ever been as a parent. Not only did she want to vote, not only was she willing to endure my irritable mouthiness with the election judges, but she was doing it in honor of the women who fought for that right 100 years ago.

We returned with every piece of mail and every ID we could find and smiles on our faces. She got registered, chose a paper ballot and slapped her “I Voted!” sticker on with pride.

She wasn’t the only 17-year-old wearing one. Seniors at our high school had the day off because it was a testing day for everyone but them.

As we first got to our polling place, we saw several of her friends leaving. And beaming. And sporting “I Voted!” stickers. One of them said, conspiratorially, “The answer to Number 7 is C.”

For the rest of the day, my daughter texted friends and reported on their voting experiences.

Every day I hear and read about disdain for this newly adult generation. The hand wringing about texting and social media, the bogus concerns that kids don’t write anymore, the middle aged angst about this generation’s sense of entitlement.

From where I sit, watching my daughter and her friends, watching my students at the university, I see a group of people who feel responsible for their own futures, who are stepping up to vote, to campaign, to protest, to rally, to speak their truth to power. I see a group of kids wearing “I Voted!” stickers like they’re the coolest thing ever.

My grandmother died when my daughter was 7. Over the span of their lives the world has changed so much, and my daughter honored her history and her ancestors on voting day.

My daughter told me that she almost cried when she made her first choice on the ballot. And I realized, right then, that she is no longer a child. She is the face of a new generation. I think we’re in good shape.

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