Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Did Anyone Remember To Vote Today?

I did.  Today was the primary election in New Jersey.  We got to vote on who all should run for governor come November.  Chances are not too many people even knew that today was another opportunity to cast a vote and to participate in democracy.  The turnout, it was expected, would be really low.  I didn't know much about many of the candidates and in at least one race I didn't even know what they were running for.  The office was something about a freeholder not to be confused with a freeloader.  I do know that my grandson was going to go help his mother make her choices.  Since the ballot is electronic and looks a lot like a big computer screen there is a significant chance that she will, with his help, vote for every candidate plus write in a couple of names.  The important thing here is that he at age almost three will learn to participate in this amazing ritual.  When I was a child our ranch was the polling place for whatever remote area in which we lived.  Election days were really big deals.  People came literally out of the hills to vote.  John and Frank Goodwin and Florence who was married to one of the two brothers.  I was never clear on which one of them called her his wife.  Mrs. Pickett and her son Bob who had gone to grade school with my mother came to vote.  Oscar and Lillian Gladeau also wandered in to cast their ballots.  And finally and most exciting Mr. Kinney came out of his cave, cranked up his 1921 Dodge Brothers Dodge pick up and sputtered in to vote.  He didn't arrive metaphorically.  The man lived in a cave and he really did have to turn a crank to start his Dodge.  All sorts of other hill people arrived throughout the day, too.  Few just voted and left.  This was an event to be celebrated with coffee and conversation.  People hung around for what often to my child's mind seemed like forever.  My brother and I got to see people and be around them.  This was big stuff.  The best part of voting day, though, was when the polls closed.  Of course the polls closed when our father was ready to call it a day which was generally when it got too dark to see the ballot.  And there in the growing darkness magical things happened as if the entire day hadn't been sufficiently magical. Daddy didn't count the ballots but he did take them out of the locked ballot box and place them in a special, really big, envelope which he then sealed with sealing wax.  The seal could not be broken once it had cooled off.  Mama witnessed the procedure so that there could be no doubt about the legitimacy of the process.  Then all of the election supplies were gathered up.  The sample ballots, clearly marked SAMPLE, and the pens and the ink were placed in a box.  Tom and I got to keep those items.  For weeks after each election day we held our own elections.  We also got to keep the left over sealing wax once Daddy had placed the unused, official ballots in another sealed envelope.  A courier drove out into the darkening desert to take the unused ballots and the ballots used for voting back to a more official poling place for counting.  Back then, elections mattered.  They were important enough for people to drive dusty distances to cast their votes.  I will continue to drive not dusty distances but at least aways to cast my vote.  Hopefully you will, too.

5 comments:

Tom Walker said...

Thank you for this article about the furious political activity around the Walker ranch house. I remember those days well, and also the later times when the neighboring ranchers, prospectors, and moon-howling hermits in our voting district mostly died out, and we would spend election day twiddling our thumbs. Kind of like the election you're taking part in today.

Anonymous said...

Right now elections matter, dusty drive or a walk down the block. After an election such as our last presidential election, I swear I'll never vote again but soon enough I've changed my mind. This time I made it right up until inauguration day. Elections do matter, now more than ever.

And may I say that each time I read a piece such as this story, I have to work to bring myself back to reality. I'm captured and brought along and almost heartbroken when your tale is ended. Your are a remarkable storyteller and my second favorite author!

Mary Walker Baron said...

Anonymous, thanks so much for your comment. So if I'm your second favorite author who is your favorite?

Anonymous said...

My heart belongs to Stephen when it's not being captured by you. Silly Mary, I think you knew that!

Mary Walker Baron said...

Just checking, Anonymous. You know how we authors get. As always, thank you.