The midterm elections are just a few short weeks away. And as political sides start revving up for an election season that's sure to be full of twist and turns, voters are likely wondering about polling place policies. Parents in particular, might be asking "can I bring my baby to vote?" and the answer short and quick answer is yes.
All minors are allowed into the voting booth with their parents in all 50 states, including Washington, D.C., according to the California State Assembly office of Alex Padilla. This means babies, toddlers, children, teens and everything in between. For some states, like California this means up to 18 years of age, for others like Virginia, this means 15 years of age. For your state's definition of minor, be sure to check your state's voting rules individually.
If your child is old enough, they can even punch the ballot, whether it be with an ink stamp or a pull lever, according to the rules on USA.gov.
However the amount of children allowed into the booth at one time varies by state, so be sure to call your polling place prior to going. For instance, Pennsylvania allows just one child in the booth, while Maryland allows two. If you have three or more children, tag team with your partner or a friend if necessary.
While babies often cry at inopportune times, try to go at a time when your baby might be sleeping or otherwise content. Causing any kind of ruckus that could distract other voters is frown upon. And if it's really bad, they may ask you to leave, according to Catherine Donaldson Evans, senior editor of What to Expect.
And while it might be a totally Instagram worthy moment, do not take pictures inside the polling booth — it's illegal. In some states, it could even get you arrested, according to CNN.
Taking older children to the poll can be an eye-opening experience for them. It's a great lesson in teaching them to express their feelings and participate within the community, Dr. Andreaw Bastiani Achibald, Development Psychologist for the Girl Scouts of America said:
Some parents think voting is way over kids’ heads — that politics has nothing to do with their world and something they will be bored by, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Voting is about using your voice to stand up for what you believe in. I’m pretty sure that all of us as parents, regardless of our political leanings, want our children to grow up knowing that their thoughts and opinions matter.
Even if your kids can't vote, it's important to let them know that their opinions matter and they can encourage the adults in their lives to register to vote or register to vote, according to PBS. They can also pass out fliers, wear buttons or listen to family friendly debates along with their parents. Any inclusion helps them be a part of the bigger picture.
So, if you're headed to the polls in November, remember that it's totally OK to bring your babe. Just don't forget to get your kiddo one of those super cool "I voted" stickers. You can even save your ballot stub for them. Plus it will look pretty cool in a scrap book.
If you have other questions about voting, other than if you can bring your baby into the booth, you can always check out the U.S. Vote Foundation website for more info.
With so much at stake, this midterm election is a big one which means that every voice matters. Let your baby be a part of history by joining you in the voting booth to witness democracy in action.