We have had quite an election season here in North Carolina. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing an ad for Kay Hagan or Thom Tillis, with a smattering of judges and North Carolina senators rolled in. Or maybe I should say you see ads against Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis! I tend to tune them out. It’s hard to know what to believe from those ads, and they’re so sensational. But apparently my kids are paying attention. Carter announced last night that he was voting for Kay Hagan because she wrecked our world. Why is he voting for her then? Does it make it seem to him like she’s a superhero? What it said to me was that he pulled the negative out of these ads, and that’s sad.

As bad as the attack ads get, and as frustrating as the constant barrage of mail may be, nothing makes me feel more patriotic than election day. After weeks (or was it months?) of all this nastiness, we calmly go to our polling places, cast our vote and walk out. There are no armed guards, no riots, no worries of violence or danger. I’m free to vote for whoever I choose, and my neighbor might vote the opposite, and yet we still live next to each other, feeding each other’s pets during vacations and picking each others’ kids up from school. Peacefully.

I remember when I was a little girl going with my parents to vote. I remember standing in a line for what seemed like a very long time, in the cold rain. I remember being extremely bored, and probably pestered my poor mom by asking how long we had to wait and why we were even there. But we were there. She voted, and by dragging me along, she showed me how important it was to get out and cast your vote, even if you had to wait in a long line in a polling site in a suburb of Atlanta.

And then there’s my grandmother. The last few years of her life she didn’t drive. But she made sure to get an absentee ballot sent to her, and voted in every election. And she was an educated voter as well, reading the paper every day to stay up with the issues.

So you better make sure that when I go to vote, I take my kids. They don’t know how lucky they are that we live in a rural area. I have never had to wait in line to vote at CB Eller, even during a tightly contested presidential election. And what’s even better, when we walk up to the doors of their school that they’re so familiar with, some of the people who are running for county commissioner, or school board, or maybe even district court judge live and work right here in our community, and the kids recognize them.

Our political process is about so much more than the presidential races. Choosing who will represent you on your school board or your town council affects you just as much, if not more.

So exercise your right to vote. It’s not just your civic duty, it’s your chance to have a say in how things are run. And maybe swell up with some patriotic pride while you’re at it.