voting with a toddler/preschooler

I wrote this for the primaries, but it holds true today too, so I’m bumping it to the top of the weblog. Here’s how to keep your sanity while voting with a small child!

If you are looking at the upcoming primaries and your first thought is not “Who will be the best President of the United States of America?” but rather “How in heck am I going to manage to vote with my kid in tow?” this is for you.

If you awaken in the middle of the night sweating with nightmares about waiting in line, your little one playing with the voting curtain, or chasing a child about a school gymnasium while clutching a blank ballot in your hands, this is for you.

If you hear candidates listing issues and wonder why no one is addressing the real issue (how you can rent an angel for five minutes of babysitting while you vote) then read on, my friend.

Voting with a child under five is possible. It can even be fun.

1) if possible, go at the time least convenient to 90% of the residents of your city.

2) know what the balloting looks like beforehand

3) if you have paper ballots, make your child a ballot and bring a black crayon to mark it up. Stiff white cardboard, such as the backing in a package of nylons, works well.

4) if you have voting machines, affix paper clips or pipe cleaners to the ballot in such a way as to resemble a voting machine. Ditto the stiff white cardboard.

5) mark up the ballot to read “Choose your favorite color” and give several interesting selections the child can mark off. (Here I have to say, I endorse teal, but teal isn’t on the ballot in some states. Most states, however, have accepted nominations from red, blue, yellow, green, purple, orange, brown and paisley.)

6) after checking in to vote, give your child his ballot for voting and ask him to vote. If your child is a pre-reader, don’t even bother reading it to him.

7) if you hand in a paper ballot and the ballot-taker looks like she has no sense of humor, do not attempt to hand her the child’s paper ballot.

8 ) be thrilled that your child voted and encourage him to tell everyone else within a five mile radius that he too has voted. Even if they don’t think it’s cute, total strangers will thank Heaven that your kid stayed quiet and at your side.

9) oh, and may the best color win. Or something. By this point in the process, you’re so relieved that you actually voted that you may no longer care which candidate prevails.


  1. blueraindrop

    ya know those handful of stores that offer a childcare area around the holidays? i’m surprised one of the candidates hasn’t come up with this idea for voting places and got their supporters to vollunteer to keep kiddie chaos contained for a few minutes to encourage you to vote for them.