Moms, dads, and the ballot box

Posted by Erica Noonan  November 2, 2010 09:15 AM

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Today is Election Day, and I saw several parents at the ballot box imparting on-the-fly civics lessons.

One well-meaning parent was even rattling on about redistricting to an 8-year-old.

The kids appeared to range from bored to bemused -- basically they were thrilled to get to hang out with mom or dad for the morning and get a donut for good behavior.

I'd bet the glory of democracy was lost on the under-10 set, but at least they are getting the idea that voting is Something We Do regularly and with gusto, like nightly teeth brushing, or singing at top volume when AC/DC's "All Night Long" comes on the car radio.

I started to wonder if the 'parent vote' would be much of a factor in today's races.

Being a voting mom or dad is always a double-edged sword. Someone is always the education candidate or the public safety candidate.

As a parent, that seems to translate into the question of do we want kids to have more resources in school, but get mugged when they walk out the door? Or the other way 'round?

But here in Massachusetts, I see Question 1 -- whether to repeal the 6.25% liquor tax, as being very parent-oriented. Ask yourself, do you drink more since you had kids, or less?

Question 3, which would slash Massachusetts sales tax by 3%, seems to qualify as well.

Parents certainly buy a lot of stuff, and lower sales tax would make it easier to do so. But is that really so great if it comes at the expense of public services, like education and town sports?

In terms of governor, attorney general, sheriff and everyone else, the races left me voting in line with my basic nature as a person, worker and homeowner.

Kids or no kids, my core beliefs about who should hold office haven't changed that much over the years. Have yours?

Did being a parent affect how you voted today? Why or why not?

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about the author

Erica Noonan is chief of the Globe West bureau. Before joining the Globe in 2000, she worked for the Associated Press in Boston. Raised in Wellesley, she has a master's degree in political communication from Emerson College and a BA in political science from Trinity University in San Antonio. She lives in Natick with two energetic children: Dennis, 6, and Lila, 4.

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