Get Your Butt to the Polls

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When it comes to politics, women talk a good game but how many of us cross the finish line and actually vote on Election Day? “Don’t Forget to Vote” is already at the top of my “to do” list for November 4. Okay, so far, so good. But getting my butt to the polls on the big day is another story.

Back in 2004, I didn’t have a kid, so stopping to vote for Bush or Gore on my way to work was a piece of cake. Now that I have a toddler in tow, life ain’t so easy anymore. Like many working moms, I am constantly adding more things to my “to do” list than I manage to cross off. While I have never been more tired, busy, or crazy, I am still determined to show up and vote. As long as I get myself organized, I will do it. You can, too. Promise.

Now, a lot of folks say they are going to vote this time around, but there’s no telling how many people will really show up when it counts. Roughly 70 percent of the voting age population is registered to vote, but in past elections only about half of us did so. Let’s hope this is the year things change. Ladies, this is mother of all elections and might very well be decided by you and me. Senators Obama and McCain need the female vote. Estrogen may just push one of them into the White House. Yeah, right now Obama is ahead in the polls, but there’s really no telling if he or McCain will win the whole enchilada. No matter who you are rooting for, remember that your vote counts. So do whatever you can to show up and exercise that freedom previous generations of women fought so hard for.

But before Election Day gets any closer, do yourself a favor and plan ahead. First, make sure you’re actually registered to vote. You’d be surprised at how many people show up at the polls only to be turned away because they weren’t registered in the first place. I had a panic attack earlier this month when I realized that Florida’s voter registration deadline was October 6. After three moves in the past two years, I could not for the life of me remember if I filled out a voter registration card for my current address. I’m lucky if I remember my husband’s name these days, let alone a tiny registration card that came in the mail months ago.

So I turned to Vote Poke for help. After punching in my address, the site confirmed that I wasn’t nuts: I was a registered voter. Thank goodness, now I really don’t have an excuse to stay home on Election Day. If you aren’t registered, depending on where you live you may be out of luck. The registration deadline has come in gone in many states but some states will allow you to register at the polling place on Election Day. For a list of deadlines go here or contact your secretary of state or local board of elections. Hurry, time is running out.

Next, it’s a good idea to figure out what you’re going to do with the kids on Election Day. If they are in school or being watched by someone other than you, consider yourself lucky. But if not, take the kids with you. Yeah, I know for some of you this is a deal breaker, especially if little Jack or Jane is a troublemaker, but do whatever you can to get out of the house—you’ll be home before you know it. But in case you run into long lines at the election site, be prepared: bring a stroller, make sure the kids are fed, or bring snacks and drinks with you to the polling place. It’s also a good idea to grab some books, toys, or games to keep the kids occupied. If they’re old enough, explain the election process to them. Make a game of it. It’s never too early to get kids interested in politics.

Last but not least, lose the excuses. If you don’t have time to vote before work, plan to vote during your work day. Your boss should be fine with it. If he or she is not, vote during your lunch break or if you must, head to the polls after work—just make sure you know what time the polls close. If you don’t think your vote will count, think again. Remember how close the 2004 race was between George Bush and Al Gore? A couple of hanging chads here in Florida decided our Commander-in-Chief. I bet registered voters from both parties across the country are kicking themselves for not getting their butts to the polls that November.

If you don’t plan to vote because you’re still undecided, well, I’m not sure what will sway you one way or the other but you still have a few weeks to study up on each candidate. Hopefully you’ll make up your mind by the big day. I know I have! See you at the polls November 4!


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