Kids young and old join parents at the Manlius Village Center for Election Day 2021.(c) 2021 Lauren Helmbrecht

Eastern Suburbs

Families take to the polls on Election Day 2021

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Lauren Helmbrecht: Have you come to vote before or is this your first time?

Anderson Fluker: It’s like, my millionth time.

Helmbrecht: For Anderson Fluker and his dad Kwame, going to the polls together on election day is a tradition. Kwame encourages Anderson to ask questions and participate in the democratic process…and has for Andersons’ whole life. Kwame is looking forward to the day Anderson can vote himself.

Kwame Fluker: The seed we planted, my wife and I, over the past nine years now, it will be great to see it come to fruition. Nine and a half. It will be great to see it come to fruition and hope that he’ll carry that legacy on as well.

Helmbrecht: Anderson wasn’t the only kid hanging around the poll center today. And while some young children were interested in learning about elections…others were just there because of convenience.

Helmbrecht: For some families, they’ve seen their kids go all the way from asking for an I Voted sticker to earing one themselves when they accompany their parents to the polls.

Helmbrecht: Andrew Dingel is a Syracuse University student and could have voted closer to campus, but he chose to come back to Manlius. Andrew wanted to go to the polls with his dad Daniel, like he’s been doing since he was eight years old.

Andrew Dingel: It’s time I get to spend with my parents that I wouldn’t get to spend otherwise.

Daniel Dingel: Oh, it’s totally fulfilling. It’s more than just on election day that they ask the questions.

Helmbrecht: Daniel loved the questions Andrew asked him when he was younger, but values the conversations about candidates and proposals the two now have as voters Something young families like the Flukers hope to have in the future. In Manlius, I’m Lauren Helmbrecht N-C-C News.

MANLIUS, N.Y. (DiA) – Anderson Fluker feels like he’s been to “a million” elections in his lifetime. In reality, the nine-and-a-half-year-old has joined his dad Kwame at the polls for almost every election in the young boy’s lifetime. For Kwame, it is important to make Anderson aware of voting from an early age. “The seed we planted, my wife and I, over the past nine years now, it will be great to see it come to fruition.” Kwame is especially passionate about the democratic process and everyone’s right to vote and is grateful that his son learns about these subjects in the classroom as well as in-person on election day. While Anderson still has nine years before he can vote, he did proudly wear an “I Voted” sticker given to him by a poll worker.

Lisa Owens is a poll manager at the Manlius Village Center and says she sees a full range of kids at the polls, from newborns all the way to adult children with their parents. Owens and her team interact with the kids and their parents, joking around by saying things like “thanks for bringing your dad to the polls today” and showing kids how to insert their parent’s completed ballot into the Onondaga County Scanner Station. Though Owens says she sees a majority of parents with kids in the morning before 9 a.m., she says there’s a steady stream of children at the election site throughout the day. And one mother stuck out to her specifically today. While waiting to pick up her ballot, Owens says the mother was reading a children’s book about voting to her child. Owens believes bringing kids to the polls is a great teaching tool.

Daniel Dingel started bringing his son Andrew to the polls when Andrew was just eight years old. But today, Andrew is a junior at Syracuse University. Though there are polling locations closer to school, Andrew chose to come back to Manlius to vote alongside his dad. “It’s time that I get with my parents that I wouldn’t get to spend otherwise,” says Andrew. And by having Andrew tag along as a child, Daniel says it opened up space for conversations about voting. “It’s more than just election day that they ask questions.”

For Daniel, watching Andrew grow up and go from asking for an “I Voted” sticker to get one of his own has been fulfilling. Something that parents of younger children, like Kwame Fluker, look forward to experiencing in the future.

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