I vote every in every election! I think it may be one of the most thrilling things I do. You may say I have a very boring life, but no, that’s not why it’s is thrilling.
Like a lot of mid twentieth century families, we had a subscription to Reader’s Digest, the small five by seven magazine appearing monthly on the coffee table. When it would come, the first thing I would do was go through and read the funny bits. The little stories, the jokes. Life in these United States was one of my favorites. It was right around the time I was able to register to vote or getting ready to register [so yes, this was pre-1971] and it must have been a midterm election not a national, because the story was about this town in the middle of nowhere, somewhere on the western side of the country, maybe a population of a couple of hundred. The town was going through the sort of phone-it-in election of a mayor and a city council, town clerk, all these small town jobs that the townspeople probably took for granted, and dutifully the town voted in the ones willing to do the jobs, year after year.
This was back when you voted on Election Day, no early voting, you had to show up at the polling place, usually a school cafeteria or a church hall, between seven in the morning and seven or eight at night. Well, this particular Election Day came and went just like normal.
But not! When the count came in there was a surprise–the people who got the jobs were not the ones who always had the jobs. Yes, these new people were known in town and, well, it was almost a ritual that they ran against the ones who did the job, you know, just for the sake of democracy. The big surprise was that everyone who won got just one, yes, one vote.
It seems there was this twenty one year old. This was his first election, and he was so proud and excited about being able to vote. He read all the background about what people said they would do if they got the job and he voted. Turns out he was the only one in the whole town who voted that election. So come the next morning a whole new set of people were in charge of the town.
Was the story true? Hell if I know. Can I find out? Not even looking. This is what I do know!
No matter where I live I make sure I can vote. I steer clear of the campaign rhetoric, the TV ads, the pundits, the columns. Do I read them? Yes, but I also read the speeches where I can, [because four years of Latin taught me oratory is delivery] read at least three or four newspapers and I read all the background information I can find. I look for League of Women Voter material, online websites, .gov websites and make a decision, whether it be for president, judge, attorney general, mayor or even if it is for dog catcher.
And so I vote every time there is an election, no matter if it is national, midterm, or local. I have never forgotten that story, that just one person voting could make a difference. And each time I vote, I think of that kid. And I wonder, what if I was the only one voting? And I always smile as I walk into that booth.