Would you take your kids with you when you go and vote? Or would you rather let them stay at home?
In Japan, the Upper House election took place on July 21, and some people wanted to bring their children to the polling station, to show the children how to vote and also because it was inconvenient to find someone to leave them with as both parents went to participate in the election. Some parents did take their children with no problem, but others were turned away.
It seems that there are both positive and negative feelings among Japanese netizens about bringing children to such places. But when the voter turnout for this last election was only 52.61% — the third-lowest since WW2.
Should bringing your children to the polling station really be controlled by law? Or is it a good opportunity to encourage future voters?
Should You Take Your Kids With You To The Polling Station? Drastic Changes To Public Offices Election Act Needed
Went to the polls for the Upper House election with my children. Checking timeline on Twitter back at home, there were a few tweets such as: ‘I went to the polls with my junior high school child and got rejected.’ and ‘No problem bringing my 4th grade [9 or 10 year old] child.’ I thought I would keep bringing my children even when they grew up, as I believe it’d be a great opportunity for us to think about politics as a family, and so did some research to see what sort of rules we currently have in regard to going to the polls with children. According to Paragraph 58 of Public Offices Election Act, there is the article below:
Electors, workers employed in clerical work at polls or observation, and police officersonly are permitted to enter polling places. However, should an elector be accompanied by young children due to inevitable circumstances, they will also be permitted to enter the polling station subject to the approval of the station official.
It means ‘young children’ might be allowed to get in but ones at a certain age would probably not. It seems controllers are in a position of authority but the definition of ‘young children or else accompanied by electors due to due to inevitable circumstances’ is too vague and apparently some primary school children could enter. It’s such an unclear rule for electors I’m afraid.
Of course if it’s required by the law, it should be operated according to the letter of the law, but I can’t help but be skeptical about the current Public Offices Election Act – because they don’t have the slightest sense that they are motivating children as future electors to get more interested in politics and come back to the polling places when they become voters.
The low voting rate of young people is mostly blamed on young people themselves, but it is also due to the current social system that keeps children’s interest away from politics. This also caught the public’s attention when Internet polling was finally released — currently minors are forbidden to be involved in any election campaigns by the law, even re-tweeting any candidates. 18 or 19 year old students at university where they develop their political literacy, or even workers who pay taxes, are also minors. Hence they’re not allowed to tweet anything about candidates – is this really a good system? It’s clearly paradoxical that we adults moan about the low voting rate of young people.
I suppose that as it is operated in about 90% of other countries, anyone at age 18 or over should be eligible to vote. After graduating from high school, as a matter of course, these new university students or members of society should be recognised as grown-ups and deserve the same rights. It’s already determined by the law of procedures for amending the Constitution that anyone at age 18 or over should be eligible to vote and so it should be the same in every single election.
The current ban on election campaigns by minors, and on going to the polls with their parents should be revised in terms of political interest of young people and preparation for their future voting rights. Obviously taking advantage of minors against their will for each election campaign should be restricted; however, these outrageous cases should simple be regulated. I doubt it’d be great for Japanese society to prohibit all election campaigns.
Comments from Yomiuri Shimbun:
Went to a car park altogether but when my husband voted I was in the car and when I did he was in the car so we didn’t take our children to the venue.
Not sure if it’s common sense or a lack of common sense, but I don’t really know why the reason why I don’t take children into the polling station.
Wasn’t taken to the polling place when I was young either though.
I heard it was not okay before, but is now okay due to decreasing voter turnout.
Totally understand that you can’t be bothered to farm out your babies and go out for polling, particularly as lots of us are nuclear families.
This time, my two year old baby got cranky and the guy at the front desk gave us sweets.
Three of us all went to the polling together.
Our child is 5 years old and was just beside us when we were filling the voting paper and got through it altogether. Then we parents dropped the pieces of paper into the box.
I find it alright for children to come to the polling places with us as long as they stay quiet.
Nothing said to us. Maybe because our child is still a babe in arms?
Me and my husband were going to vote in turns if anyone said anything though.
Think it’s part of great education if they mind their manners such as not acting up nor being boisterous.
I made my 4 year old daughter drop the voting paper into the box — when no one was around, of course.
Just bring them without bothering about it.
It’s the exercise of your rights as a citizen.
I see no problem with bringing children to polling places. There were actually a few families with children when I went to vote.
It’s probably because I always went with my parents to the polling place, I try and vote every single time. Think it’s important to show your children how to vote.
Would be alright as long as they keep quiet, right? However, I understand it’s likely that children will run around when they’re somewhere like gymnasiums at primary schools, as they just like large space.
In the nature of election, parents should see to it that they behave.
Took a 5 year old kid.
My husband and I go and vote together so always bring our kid with us.
I hold hands and when we fill in voting paper we teach him not to say what we write out loud. We only do putting paper into a box together.
Committee said nothing but was it not okay?
Well us parents plus a child, rather make him stay wherever possible and shouldn’t let him in unless it’s really empty. Always let him stay in a waiting room with pipe chairs.
That’d better if you can’t let children stay away from places for writing candidates names or dropping paper. Don’t say it’s thoughtless though.
Lots of parents actually bring their children anyway.
The lady I got into the venue together was with her primary school child but said ‘primary school students should be out’. There was no detailed explanation but I assume they’re probably concerned about the possibility that these children might say it out loud that who voted who or ‘Why didn’t you vote for “some particular candidate”? Mr/Mrs acquaintance asked you to vote for him/her.’
I was on my own but could be the case if there were any young kids… Apologies if I was wrong, think it’s important to educate children about election but suppose there would be some people who choose not to bring their children with them.
At the polling place near my house, there was a notice that said we could enter the venue with children. Helpers for disabled people come in too.
I always went to polling places with my parents when I was young. It’s only allowed for grown ups and I always wanted to grow up faster.
Think it’s such an important thing that children see their parents vote.
7 years ago, went to vote with my only 2 month old baby. Of course my husband was at work so just me and the baby.
However at the entrance, there was such a formal response waiting for me – ‘Though it might be a baby it counts as a separate person and therefore cannot enter the polling station with you’.
Plus no one could take care of my baby because they were short of hands, so just ended up in a pram outside…
It made me really sad and I haven’t voted since. My husband is always at work on Sundays (6am to 9pm) and the venue is too far to walk, but don’t have a car myself.
Well okay, we now can bring children apparently. In that case maybe I’d try and vote again.
Used to work at the polling place via a temping agency. There aren’t any problems at all with coming to vote with your children.
In my city, these children are welcomed with a balloon each (some people say it’s just a waste of tax though…).
Just a balloon could make them stop grizzling and feel delight instead with stars in their eyes. In the meantime, parents could just quickly come in and vote.
Drawing in kids with such things is basically not the best idea, but I’m happy with that if it can provide a better atmosphere and bring more people to vote.
I suppose it only decreases the voting rate if we lock children out from polling places.
Please just take them with you even if they end up with no presents over there!
They’ll learn something about the world surely, and it leads to a higher turnout one day in the future hopefully.
I think there should be discipline on a routine basis that parents teach their children not to run around nor act up in such places.