Pediatric Associates of the NW Blogs

I’m Voting, And So Should You

Peter Reed, MD, MPH, FAAP
October 15, 2018 12:00PM

Election Day is November 6. If you are registered to vote in Oregon, you will soon get your voter’s pamphlet and ballot in the mail. If you are not yet registered to vote, you can do so until midnight on Tuesday, October 16.

When you get your ballot in the mail, you will likely have one of these three responses: “Yay! Democracy! I’m going to vote right now and show my kids how it all works!” or “Ugh. Democracy. I’ll vote, but I won’t enjoy it. First, I need to make dinner for the kids.” or “Yuck. I don’t vote in midterms. I’ll vote when it really matters. I’ll give this ballot to the kids for their art projects.”

No matter which one you identify with, two things are true: (1) You are a parent. (2) You have the vote.

I am both a pediatrician and a parent. Around election time, you might see me wearing a pin or a T-shirt that says, “I care for kids, and I vote.” I do this to remind myself and others that our responsibility to our children extends to creating a world in which they can succeed. Since our children cannot vote, it is up to us to advocate for them on their behalf. One of the most potent ways that we can do this is to vote.

I acknowledge that the current political environment makes it tough to feel good about civic engagement. Vitriolic partisanship is a constant and loud presence on TV and social media. It has become difficult to talk about politics without stoking tensions over race, sex, gender, and nationalism.

But we cannot disengage. Civil discourse and reasoned policymaking depend on the participation of parents who care about our children’s future.

In this election, we are voting for the Governor of Oregon, a position that has tremendous influence over the state budget, including school funding, transportation, and the Oregon Health Plan.

We are voting on state ballot measures affecting affordable housing, state revenues, immigrant rights, and reproductive rights.

And, of course, we are voting for members of Congress, state senators and representatives, and school board and other local officials, all of whom will influence our children’s lives on issues from classroom size to safe transportation to climate change.

Our kids cannot vote. But we can. And we should.

Peter N. T. Reed MD, MPH, FAAP

Learn more about Dr. Reed here.

Dr. Reed blogs about politics, policy, and their effects on children at