Kids Go to The Polls

By Meredith Perri
BU News Service 

NORTHEND – As residents of the North End filed in and out of the polling station located in the Nazzaro Community Center on North Bennet Street, two instructors stood outside with a line of children between the ages of three and five standing in between them.

“We need to be very quiet when we walk inside,” the instructor at the front of the line said to the children, all of whom were dressed in bright winter coats and squirming as they listened for further directions. “The people inside are doing something very important: they are voting for the next president!”

The instructor placed extra emphasis on the last sentence, making the students hush in awe of the mysterious task the passersby were fulfilling. Similar groups of children who were part of programs at the Nazzaro Community Center noticed the people trickling in and out of the building and the campaign signs that peppered the gate leading to the center’s entrance, but few would actually see voting take place inside.

These children are among the approximately 705 residents under the age of 18 in the North End – a neighborhood predominantly made up of residents between the ages of 20 and 54, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Out of the 11,753 residents who were counted in the North End during the 2010 census, approximately six percent of the area’s population is made up of those under the age of 18.

One man, who asked to remain anonymous, had spent the morning canvassing for the Anthony Petruccelli campaign and had seen many voters come and go from the polling station.

“I’ve been out here for about an hour and a half,” he said outside of the community center as he looked down at his winter glove-covered hands. “Maybe only one person brought a kid with her. She had a stroller. Other than that, I haven’t really seen anyone.”

The canvassersaid he thought the low temperatures, which dipped into the high 30s, might have discouraged parents from bringing children to the polling station with them. He also added that many parents might have found a more convenient time to vote while their children were in school.

Meanwhile, Joe Pietro, a young father who voted while his infant daughter was curled against his chest in a baby harness, said that he had no other option than to bring his daughter with him. He added that it was important for children to understand what was going on here, and, for this reason, Pietro said he would bring his daughter with him into the voting booth as she got older.

“They’re never too young to get them going,” Pietro said as he looked down at his daughter, who was bundled in an outfit featuring pink flowers. “Just start the conversation about what’s going on in the world.”


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