The Ruark Kids


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On the way to school this morning, I took Siena with me to Town Hall to vote. Because of the small parking lot at Town Hall and the (potentially record-breaking) strong turnout this year, we had to park a ways away and walk. With about twenty people in line outside (I know I know, not that many, but it is a small town with a smaller parking lot), Siena had fun looking at all the cars and people. She wanted me to carry her most of the time, of course, but that was just as well because then she couldn’t try to wander off.

As we got inside, she saw a sample ballot posted for display purposes, and said, “What’s that?” I told her it was the mark of liberty, a voter’s weapon with which to exercise freedom and democracy, and yet a meager representation of what our forebears fought for and what many Americans fight for to this day. Well, not really. I really just told her it was a sample ballot, and we’d get one to fill out once we got inside.

Since our polling location didn’t check any actual ID (one of the many problems with our election process), I tried to pass Siena off as mama, so she could vote too. They didn’t buy it. On the plus side, no one had voted using my name yet, so I was able to get a blank ballot.

We stepped into the booth-thing, and I held Siena while I filled in the circles for the three out of six races that were actually contested. Though, in Massachusetts to say any race is contested is like saying that a whelk has a chance in a supernova: technically true, but we all really know who wins.

On the way out, one of the election officials saw Siena and said that they encourage people bringing their kids to expose them to democracy in action (or, again, in Massachusetts it’s just as well democracy inaction given the foregone conclusion of many races). I said, indeed, and Siena even voted, too. Then I wondered if saying something like that at a polling place is akin to wisecracking at an airport; just something that you don’t do any more unless you like small, hot rooms and very bright lights. But she just laughed it off, which was a noble effort since she probably gets that kind of thing all day.

Outside, I plopped Siena on my shoulders so she could see all the cars and people around, and we marched back to our car so we could get on with our lives. Which in general I think we all are very much looking forward to doing once this is over.

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