Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Right to Vote

Dear Kaitlin. Happy Birthday. I find it hard to believe that you are now 18, an adult in the eyes of the law. The years between that wonderful day when you were born and the present have passed all to quickly from my perspective. Still, you have arrived at full age just in time to exercise one of the great privileges of being an adult, the right to vote. I'm thrilled that you find this new right as special and exciting as I do.

This seems like just the proper time to share with you your family's political history. I'm hoping that it will provide context for your first vote.

I remember very clearly going to our local town hall to register so I could vote in my first election. At the time, I was 3 years older than you are. The law didn't consider me an adult until I was 21. Perhaps the law was right.

In addition, we had to answer a question correctly before we could be properly registered, rather like taking a drivers test. The town hall was intimidating, the building was old, dark and a bit dingy. Still, there were clear signs pointing me to the Town Clerk's Office saving me from the embarrassment of walking into the wrong office. To the woman behind the counter, my appearance to register was just routine business. I can't remember the question she asked. Much to my relief it was something even a child could answer. She took my information, name, address, cast her eyes briefly over my birth certificate which recorded the arrival of "baby girl Harshaw," and entered my name on the list of those who could vote. Within a few minutes, I was safely out of the unfamiliar world of government and into the sunshine of a lovely June day.

You timed your arrival much better than I did. You will be able to vote in just a few weeks. I had to wait over a year. I was so proud to cast my first vote. Sadly, though I have never missed an election in the years since that memorable day, I have seldom been pleased with my choices. I hope you will experience many elections with wonderful candidates to choose from.
Love, Gram

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