August 9th is a big day in Connecticut. We will have our chance to engage in primary season, which is our opportunity as voters to cast our ballots and vote our values. It is prime time for families to have conversations about democratic principles, practices, and the responsibility of citizens to exercise their most sacred right; the right to vote.
For those who are new to primaries, “a primary election is an election in which registered voters select a candidate whom they believe should be a political party’s candidate for elected office to run in the general election. They are also used to choose convention delegates and party leaders. Primaries are state-level and local-level elections that take place prior to a general election. Connecticut utilizes a closed primary system, in which only registered party members may vote in a party’s primary.”
Voting is not only a right for adults but a learning opportunity for youth. When children are able to accompany their parents to the polls, it leaves an imprint; a lasting impression of purpose and each child’s ability to be part of and engage in this democracy. Children, their parents, grandparents, and other family members typically share their opinions about what they feel is important in their everyday lives. These conversations occur at breakfast tables, on walks to school, while doing chores, or sharing a meal with friends. Everyone has an opinion but not everyone shares the same values and beliefs. Primary time is an ideal moment to discuss values and to remind each other that respect is one of the fundamental values in a democracy. Respecting that we can agree to disagree or work to meet in the middle through compromise.
This primary season offers an opportunity to vote for candidates vying for nomination for many offices including State Senate and State Representative, however, I believe most often overlooked are the Secretary of State and State Treasurer races. Both incumbents have decided not to run again and the candidate landscape is pretty full for both. No matter your party affiliation or preference, this is an exciting time in politics and a time to use your voice as you discuss candidates within your family as well as exercise your right to vote.
Researching and understanding the values, beliefs, and experiences of the candidates helps voters make informed decisions as they vote for those whose values are well aligned with their own. As I contemplate my options, I ask, how will this candidate help me and my family to thrive here in Connecticut? How will my life be different in the next two years based on this person’s policy positions? These are the types of questions generations within family units should ask. The elders in the family sharing with the youngest members allows for rich conversation and connection within the family unit and also provides a multigenerational learning environment. Even preschoolers can understand the concept of voting as an action people take to make decisions.
No one has to be left out of this conversation that will lead to bigger, more robust conversations as we head toward November 8 for elections. It’s not too late to get started. To learn more about who is running, visit the Connecticut Secretary of State’s page or Ballotpedia.org. Also, check out these great resources on how to talk to children about voting from Public Broadcasting Station (PBS).