I think the answer to getting more people to turn out to vote might be as simple as offering free doughnuts.
My wife and I bounced back and forth repeating our phrase of the night: "Civic responsibility." Our daughters laughed awkwardly until they realized we were serious.
"Sibel 'sponsibity," our 3-year-old said sheepishly.
"Civil response?" my 6-year-old chimed in. We repeated ourselves more slowly.
They both proclaimed loudly, "Civic 'sponsibility!"
At night, as my wife and I tucked our children into bed, I reminded them again the next day was Election Day.
"You know what that means, right?" I asked.
"We get a sticker?" my 3-year-old responded. I nodded.
"We are going to go get doughnuts?" my 6-year-old said. I nodded.
"Yep, and we get to cast our vote for the candidates and issues facing our area," I added. "We need to get up early though, so we can vote before school."
My oldest informed me she would be getting up early. "I'll be ready to go when you get up," she said. I laughed, as surely this would not happen.
When I woke up at 6:30 the next morning, she was standing in the bedroom doorway. She had gotten dressed and brushed the knots out of her hair.
"Ready to vote?" she asked as I wiped the sleep from my eyes.
Around our house, Election Day is known as sticker and doughnut day. My wife and I have taken our girls with us to vote in every election since they were born.
Even the special elections where one issue was on the ballot. And each time we claim our sticker and proudly wear it on our chests. Sometimes, my kids are able to score a couple -- or dozen -- extra stickers. One year, we got back from voting and the backseat of the car was covered in stickers.
I wear my sticker proudly, and encourage my kids to show off theirs at school. "Be proud of it," I say.
They roll their eyes sometimes, but they understand. I have never felt so much like a father than these moments. When I was a kid, my parents often took my sister and me with them to the polls. Despite not quite understanding what was going on, it always felt very serious and was exciting to be a part of something so adult.
After voting, we go get doughnuts. If fact, I think the answer to getting more people to turn out to vote might be as simple as offering free doughnuts.
On Tuesday morning, with stickers proudly affixed to our coats, we entered Johnnie's Bakery in North Canton. The handful of tables in the small bakery were full of people also wearing stickers. I felt a tinge of embarrassment that it took me twice as long to pick a doughnut as it did to pick a candidate; especially since I always choose a giant glazed doughnut from Johnnie's.
Our voting tradition isn't an accident but a carefully planned event. Our hope is that if we instill in their childhood the importance of voting, then they will carry that into adulthood. Low voter turnout is like many generational problems. You can't flip a switch and fix things. You have to put in the time to teach the next generation that it is important.
"Why do we vote?" I asked my oldest daughter as we ate our doughnuts.
"Because it's our civic responsibility," she replied.
Reach Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-580-8490.
On Twitter: @DaveManley