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First-time voter takes his opinions to the polls

John Pennell
Fort Richardson


John Pennell

John Pennell

My son reached a huge milestone last week.

No, not his first step or his first word. Not his first day of school, or his first boy-girl party or his first kiss.

It wasn’t even getting his drivers’ license, although it was as important – but not as expensive – an event.

My 18-year-old son took another step to becoming a full-fledged American citizen.

He voted.

What makes me even prouder is he actually seemed interested, not only in the process, but also in the outcome of the election.

Heck, when I was his age I was off to college at Morehead State University in Kentucky doing all the wrong things with all the wrong people. Actually taking part in an election was far from the top of my list of things to do.

Luckily I have matured (somewhat) as I have aged; so when Jake came to me asking questions about who and what to vote for or against in last Tuesday’s election, I seized the opportunity.

I fought off the urge to tell him who or what I thought should win his vote and directed him to a few sites to do his own research. (OK, I admit I did – on occasion – walk around the house chanting “Vote Yes 4 Fish!”)

If he asked what I thought about an issue, I told him the truth, but at the same time suggested he look deeper and make up his own mind.

You know what?

He did.

He was as in-tune with the choices as I was; and even though he, like everybody else, got tired of the constant barrage of radio and television campaign commercials, he soldiered on and didn’t let the noise dissuade him from doing his civic duty.

Afterward, as the results rolled in, he was understandably disappointed several of his votes ended up on the losing margin. (So was I.)

So, I tried to explain the reason we vote is not to make sure a pet project or favorite politician is approved or elected. A vote is really nothing more than stating your opinion; your choice from a group of possible options.

If enough fellow voters agree with your opinion, good. If not, at least your voice was heard. The important thing is to be true to what you believe and vote it.

Otherwise you could end up voting for something or someone (or not) simply because you think they’re probably going to win anyway. Or worse, you could end up not voting your conscience because you feel the election is a lost cause.

The good news is teens are resilient, if sometimes hard to understand. Jake has shaken off his disappointment and begun researching candidates and positions for the November election.

I, on the other hand, still have to remove the Proposition 4 banners and signs I have posted in my front yard.

Oh well.