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Watching my parents vote taught me what it really means

The author's guinea pigs sporting "I Voted" stickers. (Norah Springborn/YJI)

Pekin, Illinois, U.S.A. – Just a typical Saturday driving around town, but this time, we were on a mission.

In my town, different areas are known as the “Trump Territory” and the “Biden Territory.”

So, what better thing to do than count the signs. The majority rules, I suppose!

Ah, yes. 2020. The year of the Census, the global pandemic, national riots, and the presidential election. What more do we need?

I remember it like it was a dream. Since I was a very small child, I went with my parents every single time when they voted. They stated their name, showed their voter registration card, and were given the proper ballot.

Going into the covered ballot booth while they colored in the paper election ballot was eye opening.

As they “colored in the lines,” I played with the ballot booth curtain.

But let’s face it, I was just there for the little “I Voted” sticker. Now that made me look cool at school!

The older I got going to “vote” with my parents, the more I understood. The political ads that clogged up my YouTube videos and practically consumed our TV clicked in my young mind as I read the list of the candidates for election.

The hundreds of yard signs on every street corner and in front of every house promoting or bashing a new law made sense.

You knew it was election year when the local parade was filled with candidates marching in it. They always gave out the best candy, though.

It suddenly became apparent to me that the photos – sometimes a tad frightening – of those running for mayor and to be on the city council matched the names on that paper ballot.

My parents and others colored in the dots, casting votes that would determine their fate.

In my eyes, I grew up at the polls.

I lived for the day of the first Tuesday in November that was known as Election Day to get that sticker. It was that simple.

Little did I realize or understand as a young child the real importance of that date and that sticker.

Four years ago, I got out of class to watch President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Looking back, I am currently contemplating if I will get pulled out of class for the next presidential inauguration, and if so, who will we be inaugurating?

I am by no means political, and I admit that I have no desire to be.

This year, however, I do feel a different spirit in the air all because of this world changing election.

It’s like Christmas, where people anticipate the 25th of December for pure goodness and happiness.

But on November 4 this year, how will America respond? With that pure goodness and happiness or the audacity of pure rebellion?

Now more than ever, I feel political because that IS the status quo nowadays. Unfortunately, I feel forced in that sense to be a part of US democracy.

Time will tell, but one thing is for sure – the election results of 2020 will not rest easy.

Will the results bring relief or discouragement? Stability or denial? Will election fatigue ever be truly over?

History is watching, and the protestors are standing by. Think of your future. The time is running out to decide. What will you do?

If you can, just go vote or encourage others to do so. After all, the world is watching.

For now, I am wondering if my yard sign counting hypothesis is correct.

And at least, I’m looking forward to proudly wearing my mom’s “I Voted” sticker!

Norah Springborn is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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