My husband and I dropped our youngest child off at college today, officially making us empty nesters. This is a thrill in and of itself (yes, it is--I plan to luxuriate in my aloneness). But the best part was that the college had a table set up to register students to vote. In Ohio. And I made her do it.
We live in Georgia. Until today, my daughter was registered there, and had voted once, in the only election since her birthday, for school board. She was besieged by the poll workers, who were so excited that a "young person" had come in to vote (she was only number 47, in an urban area). She proudly cast her vote (it was a runoff, so nothing else was on the ballot), and came home with her "I voted" sticker. I was thrilled to see her so excited; she is not interested in politics as a general rule, and I wanted to keep the momentum going.
Unfortunately, voting Democratic in Georgia in a statewide election is like spitting in the wind (literally--we have untraceable electronic voting, so your vote could be going to Mars for all you know). I knew that if she voted at home, her vote would be meaningless for purposes of the presidential election. I know, a terrible sentiment, but sadly, statistically, politically true. I had wanted her to vote in Ohio, where her vote could help turn the tide; while voting hours have been curtailed there, so far they haven't killed off the ability of college students to vote. But we had limited time at orientation, and I didn't feel confident that she would do this on her own by election day.
And there it was: a folding table at orientation, staffed by two eager members of the campus Democrats, helping kids register to vote in Ohio because as a student you are now a resident here, and yes, you can vote. We passed by free cookies from the Interfaith Alliance, candy from the counseling center, and even made her wait to get her registration packet with her advising information. I had to get her registered to vote. Because I knew that if she voted in Ohio, it would make a difference, and she would remember that she had done something for democracy. One day Georgia will come out of the heart of darkness, but until then I have to nurture the voting enthusiasm of my kid.