Sunday, September 28, 2008

Election Curiosities

My Daddy, who is eighty-six, thought his voting days were over. I didn't press the issue until he saw Mrs. Palin. He is quite enamoured of her, and told me several times, "I wish I could vote for *her* for President." So I called the voter registration in his new county (he moved last April to a nursing home in a different county), and they told me that the Activities Director at the nursing home could send in the paperwork, and arrange for the Mobile Voting Team to take his vote.

That was Friday. The Activities Director called me back and said that all the paperwork had to be at the County Clerk's office by 5:00 pm That Day. She had mailed all the stuff the day before. She told me she asked Daddy if he wanted to vote and he said no. (yep, having an elderly parent can be frustrating...) I told her I thought I would call the Voter Registration again and see if I could do something. The A.D. offered to do so for me. She called me right back and said that they were going to fax her another form. She ran down to Dad's room (it was near 4:30 already), got the info, and faxed it back. (by the way, I love Daddy's nursing home!)

So it looks like Daddy will be voting!

He called me that evening to tell me a story. He said, "it was one of you kids' being born, and it was Election Day." (well, only one of us was born near Election was '56) Mama was in the hospital, four days post-partum, and wanted to vote. A man from the Election Board came, accompanied by the sheriff. They had to move Mother's roommate's bed out into the hallway, and the sheriff Locked the Door and stood outside while mother gave her vote to the man. I don't know if they do that anymore (especially the Sheriff part) but it reminds me of my mother telling me (every election time) about how, in this country, voting is a Sacred Privilege.

"When I married your father, I promised to love, honor, and obey him. But when I step into that voting booth, it is between me and God. Not even your father has a right to tell me how to vote."

Gosh, I love that. It sounds so unbelievably barbaric to today's sensibilities. And, that is not to say that Daddy did not know how Mother voted. They would get the sample ballots out of the newspaper, and fill them out the night before, so they wouldn't take up too much time in the voting booth. And, I think they filled them out together!

Finally, a bit of history for you younger folks. When I was in high school, the 26th amendment was passed. This lowered the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen. I thought the argument "for" the amendment was well-founded. The Vietnam War was raging, and the slogan was, "if you are old enough to kill for your country, then you are old enough to vote." Remember, young men were being drafted--the army was not all-volunteer at that point. It gives me pause to think of all the young men drafted into all the previous wars, who had to fight without this right. So many of us don't have a clue how precious this privilege really is. Others of us take the right casually, seeing it as optional.

Of course, we cannot forget the fact that we, as women, have not always had the right to vote. Here is a link featuring women who were jailed and beaten for protesting because they did not have the right to vote. And here is a link to an article about the "night of terror" some of them endured in 1917, because they protested Mr. Wilson's White House.

This election, we keep hearing the words, "the most significant election in decades." Well, if you haven't been around as long as I have, I have news for you--they say that Every Election. Every election is significant--we saw that when we elected Mr. Bush in 2000. He took office in January 2001, and wasn't really expecting the world to change the next September.

So. Is your voter registration up to date?


April said...

I'm going to link you.

Julie said...

What neat stories! I caught a movie on HBO a dew months back about the suffragettes. It starred Hilary Swank as Alice Paul and is titled "Iron Jawed Angels."

Barbara said...

I came here from my friend April's blog, and I have to thank you for posting this. I take voting very seriously and often think of others who do not have that right.

lindafay said...

I enjoyed this!

EEEEMommy said...

This was a fabulous post! I loved reading it! :)