Sunday, November 4, 2018

Voting is your SUPERPOWER: Exercise it!! Please.

HALLIE EPHRON: Please, everyone, get out and vote! In my town it's easy peasy. Takes 5 minutes. I hope your experience is the same.

I remember my first time in a voting booth. I went with my mother
to the polling place which was the Kindergarten of our local school. I went in with her as she pulled the booth's curtain behind her. I must have been about 5 because all I could see were her legs.

An aside, my mother was a pacifist and a socialist who voted for Norman Thomas (he ran six times as the Socialist Party's candidate for president)... except when she voted for Stevenson. Of course. And way back when for FDR.

What's your experience voting been like?

INGRID THOFT: The single most critical thing I gleaned from my political science major in college was the importance of voting.  We
studied political systems around the world, many of which don’t guarantee a vote for each citizen, and it’s been said before, but people in other countries really do die fighting for the right to vote.  I always remember Winston Churchill’s quote:  “Democracy is the worst system, except for all the rest.”

In Washington State, we vote by mail so I haven’t been to a polling station for over ten years.  I get to fill out my ballot in the privacy of my own home after consulting the various endorsements and researching the ballot initiatives.  I pop it in the mail, and it’s done.  It doesn’t get easier than that, Hallie!

JENN McKINLAY: Voting is your SUPERPOWER!!! I believe this all the way down to my squishy middle. When I was nine, I read a
biography and did a report about Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I have never forgotten it or the lessons it taught me about equal rights for women. Consequently, I have never missed an election, big or small, in my voting lifetime.

In AZ, we can vote by mail and then we can track our mail-in vote on the state recorder's website to be sure it was counted, which I do - of course I do - because I'm anal like that. LOL!

RHYS BOWEN: I don't remember much about voting in England as I left in my early twenties, but John and I met in Australia where voting was compulsory. If you didn't vote you were fined.  (Maybe that would be a good way for the government to raise money here!) Where we live now we have voted by mail for years. John and I sit with our voting papers and all the additional information and go through, line by line, discussing the ramifications of each ballot measure. Some of them are so convoluted that it's hard to see what they really mean and we usually look at who is backing them.  I am so grateful we can do this in a slow and meaningful way. I don't know how people can not make mistakes in the stress of the voting booth.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I love to go to the polls and vote! We go to our local community center, where we know we are Ward 3 Precinct 3, and the nice poll workers are the same every year, and there's a bake sale in the hall. How cute is that? And we get "I voted" stickers, which I put on my phone. We have some very complicated ballot questions, and we're so determined to figure them out!   And some difficult person or party decisions, too. 

When was my first vote? Rats. I can't remember. But I remember going to the polls with my mom--my parents were the only ones in the neighborhood wearing Adlai Stevenson buttons.

LUCY BURDETTE: As for those proposition questions, who in the
world writes them? John and I tried for an hour to puzzle out what one in Florida was really about--and we're pretty smart people. They need writers on board!

As for first time voting, I blush to admit I voted for Richard Nixon. Sigh. Anyway, I've done better than that over the years and honestly, it always feels good and right to have my say. So don't stay home!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: You know, Lucy, you voted. As a young woman, when young people have ALWAYS been underrepresented. So I say, wear your Nixon button proudly!

The Smithie wrote a column about voting where she pointed out one of the things that made her a voter was tagging along with her dad and me when we went to vote. We took our kids along every time we voted, and talked a lot about what it meant to us. Did you know the most sure-fire way to turn your kids into readers is to let them see you read for pleasure? It's the same way with voting. So literally, parents, do it for your kids.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I went with my mother, too, I remember
her pulling the curtain and showing me how the voting machine worked. I've always voted in national elections, but I have to admit there were some years when I was too busy or distracted and I didn't bother to vote in midterms or local races. No more!! I vote in every election for everything including run-offs. I study the candidates and the propositions. I voted absentee from London in 2016, which was the first time I'd ever filled in a mail-in ballot. And I mailed my ballot the week before I left for this trip to the UK. Even though I'm across the Pond I will be checking election results like mad. I, too, believe that voting is our superpower.

The last couple of years my daughter and I have voted together, so I am missing that. She researches all the candidates, too, and never misses an election, so, yes, if you take voting seriously, chances are your kids will, too.


HALLIE:  Please, tell us you've voted or are going to vote (and get a flu shot, please, too.) Anyone else remember when booths had curtains? Made it feel so mysterious.

58 comments:

  1. I will be voting at the local fire house on Tuesday. We get a sample ballot in the mail prior to Election Day, so I always have the opportunity to review the public questions ahead of time and make my decisions regarding them before I get to the polling place.

    We’ve always voted, always took the children with us when we did. It’s a privilege we don’t take for granted.
    And, Hallie, the voting booths here still have curtains . . . .

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  2. I'm like the rest of you--my first memory of voting was going to the polls with my mom. My parents always treated voting as a very important thing to do, and I went for years never missing an election, although I admit I skipped a couple of local ones when I first moved here.

    My birthday is tomorrow, and sometimes falls on election day. I registered to vote when I was 17 because I would have turned 18 by election day. I voted for Gerald Ford, Lucy, so don't feel bad.

    I have already voted in this election, which involved renewing my passport and my drivers license in advance so I'd be sure to have valid ID. In Texas they require photo ID and the politicians say, "Just use your drivers license," but fail to mention that getting your TXDL in person--for the first time, or at times when you can't renew online--is a giant pain in the patootie. The DVM is always crowded, so you have to take a day off work and prepare to wait. You have to bring a whole raft of documents to prove that you are who you say you are. Or you bring a valid passport, which costs a couple of hundred dollars. All of this is hard for poor people to manage. Voter suppression is real, folks. Plan early, get your ducks in a row, check to make sure you're registered, then VOTE!

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    1. LOL Gigi on Gerald Ford! Happy birthday tomorrow!

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    2. Making it so hard to exercise your right as a citizen... that's depressing. My first election I leafleted for McGovern.

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    3. Thanks for the birthday wishes, everybody! I got a new computer, with a keyboard that is smaller and slightly different than my old one. I should be typing gibberish in no time!

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  3. Yep, never miss an election. I must have gone to vote with my parents, because I remember that excitement of the curtain - and all the legs. I certainly took my kids with me when they were young.

    I made sure my son living in Puerto Rico (but registered here) knew the importance of this midterm and I sent him the state's voter info pamphlet, which explains the ballot initiatives. He told me he mailed in the absentee ballot - yay!

    We have early in-person voting, and I used it two years ago, but, like Hank, I enjoy going to the high school on election day and feeling part of the process. (And yes, I got my flu shot!)

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    1. It's scary how the SAME PEOPLE are there year in and year out at my polling place, finding my name in the voter rolls.

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    2. I worked one year while in grad school because, A - my schedule was flexible, and B - they paid me FIFTY dollars. A windfall for a late-twenties grad student 40 years ago...

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  4. And, yes, Hallie, I got my flu shot! I absolutely HAD to do it before leaving for this trip to the UK. I didn't quite manage the full two weeks ahead of time but at least I got it.

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    1. I was told I needed the extra-strength shot because of my age. Yes, ma'am!

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    2. Me, too! Got it at my local Walgreens.

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    3. We all need the extra strength flu shot because we are extra strong women!

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  5. I can remember voting with one baby on my hip and a toddler clinging to my legs and peering curiously under the curtains at the legs in the next booth. I held them both up and let them push the lever over to lock in my vote and open the curtains. Now I vote at the local fire station--we get paper ballots and sit at long tables with mini canvas cubicles set up along their length. I sort out the candidates and issues at home, then take a sample ballot with me. And I always get my 'I Voted' sticker!

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    1. I want an I VOTED sticker... I don't think they give it out where I vote. WANT IT!

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    2. It gets better. I so a posting yesterday for a group that will deliver pizza to any polling place for those who are enduring a long wait in line!

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  6. We also have already voted this year, by mail. My husband says he liked it so much he'll keep asking for the mail ballot, and for the same reasons Rhys mentioned.

    My parents, if they voted, did not take us kids. My mom stopped on her way home from work, if she voted, which I doubt. She hasn't in years, and when she did vote she cast whatever ballot her second husband told her to. Now she is actually proud of not voting, which mystifies me.

    I joined the Young Democrats Club at my Catholic high school, back when every Catholic voted blue. But over the years my own personal beliefs have hardened, and I have not always voted party line. In fact, I was more likely to vote for a woman than for someone on one "side" or the other. Since I was 18 I think I've only missed a single Election Day, and only then because of an unexpected business trip, with not enough lead time to request an absentee ballot.

    I took my kids as often as possible, and they are savvy voters now. One has volunteered for months in Boulder, canvassing, writing postcards, and will be driving people to the polls on Tuesday. My 13-year old grandson, like my children, has grown up hearing spirited political discussion at the dinner table, and he has watched the morning news with his mom since he was two.

    One thing I have done in the past is work as an election judge. Did you know there are supposed to be an equal number of Democrats and Republicans in the polling place at all times? The pollworkers have a long, grueling day, usually starting very early in the morning, and stayed long past the time the polls close so they can reconcile votes/machines, and make sure the results get to the Board of Elections. Please remember to thank those who hand you your ballots and oversee this vital process.

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    1. It is mystifying, isn't it Karen? Sounds like you did great work teaching your kids to participate!

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  7. I don't remember the first time I voted, but I do know The Girl will be voting for the first time ever this Tuesday. She's coming home from college special to do it.

    And I got my flu shot.

    Mary/Liz

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  8. I have always voted in the presidential elections but maybe not quite in the others. But several years ago after I broke my leg I requested an absentee ballot. Wow - that was so great especially for me since it would be a trek to the polling place which meant I might not always go. Several months after that I got a phone call from the board of elections asking if I wanted to continue to received the absentee ballot. They didn't seem interested in any reason so I said sure. I sent in my ballot a couple weeks ago and cannot wait to hear the results but guess I'll have to.
    And yes I got my flu shot weeks ago!

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    1. All this talk about mailing in your vote... got me thinking. Do I TRUST the system enough to drop my ballot in a mailbox? I don't trust my bank machines to deposit checks, so ...

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    2. You use an ATM to deposit your checks, Hallie? I just use the app on my phone and take a picture to make a deposit. Saves me a trip to the ATM. ;)

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    3. I don't trust any of it. I carry that baby to the bank window and stand there until it's deposited.

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    4. Hallie, you can take your mail-in ballot directly to the Board of Elections here in Ohio. Lots of people do.

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  9. We vote in the village rec center gym, usually paper ballots that we scan into a machine that looks like a large garbage can. I say hello to all my fitness center buddies. We always took the kids along to vote, and, by high school, sat around the kitchen table debating the ballot issues with them.

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  10. This year I changed my vote on a ballot question AND the governor's race, two days before the election. If I voted early...

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  11. I have marked my sample ballot. My son and I are having lunch today and he's bringing his sample ballot because he has a few questions. I will go the the local Petco on Tuesday, cast my ballot and thank those who are there making sure the process happens. I vote in person because I like to watch them locate my name and line it through as they hand me my ballot. I wear my sticker all day.

    Now here's my fantasy... I imagine what the political debate would look like if any person who was eligible to vote but didn't, was rendered mute! The only voices who would have the right to speak would be the voices who contributed to the outcome. As I say, it's a fantasy but I can dream.

    Finally, I'm so proud of the newly minted voters who are passionately, actively engaged. They give me hope!

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    1. "any person who was eligible to vote but didn't" HAS in a very real sense been rendered mute. The high voter turnout, esp young people, gives me hope as well.

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  12. I've voted absentee for years as we've often been out of the country in November. Now they changed my polling place from the convenient neighborhood school to another venue while the school is rehabbed. Absentee voting is so much easier for me, but I do miss seeing how many have voted and the donuts and the stickers.

    While state and national elections are very important, I believe the most critical ones of all are the locals. This is where every vote counts absolutely. No electoral college, no influence from downstate, but just neighbors picking right-thinking neighbors to govern themselves.

    My grandmother and my father were both Democratic County Chairpersons in their day, and the thought of voting other than a straight Democratic ticket is gehenna to me. However it used to be I could tolerate friends and family with political leanings that were different from mine. I no longer can. I can't and won't be in the company of anyone who votes Republican in the current climate. Even Watergate wasn't this bad.

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  13. Waving from the north, here.

    A few weeks ago, on Municipal Election Day in Ontario, my quilting group was sitting around saying whether we'd voted yet today. Our dual citizenship member (Canada/US) just grinned and said, "I voted twice today."

    How many people get to do that. :^))

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    2. Congratulations Susan! The real question, to me, is how many people care enough to do that. Thank you.

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  14. I turned 21 just 5 days before the Nixon-Humphrey election and felt so lucky to be able to vote that year. I could not believe the result! Nevertheless, I always vote. Since then, many elections have been held and I know the sour taste of waking up to find out that the wrong person has won. It is a special kind of bitterness to know that the majority of people, or, in some cases, the majority of states see things so differently from me. I vote, I get my sticker and go about my day, nervous and a little sick to my stomach. My vote is always for environmental protection, women's rights, civil rights and people's health over profits. How can anyone fail to see the danger of ignoring these issues?

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  15. My first election was Dukakis-Reagan. I voted for Dukakis. As a college student, trickle down economics wasn't really working for me. Shocker, I know.

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  16. I had my flu shot (“old person” version:-) in late August, right after my pharmacy received the vaccine.

    My parents impressed upon us the privilege and responsibility of voting. As a child I often went along with them when they voted, and I couldn’t wait to be old enough to vote. I’ve never missed an election. I miss the old voting booths, with the levers and the curtains. Standing up at a desk and filling in circles (Or are they ovals?) is not the same. Something about pulling that lever to open the curtain when I was done made me feel like I had made my contribution to society. Now, when I finish filling out the ovals/circles, and then drop the ballot into the scanning machine, some part of me wonders if the machine will eat/shred my ballot!

    In CT we have had to show a photo ID in order to be allowed to vote for a number of years now. I didn’t even realize it wasn’t universal until a couple of years ago.

    DebRo

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    1. Here we just give them our name and address, we get crossed off the list and handed a ballot.

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    2. That’s all we used to do, Hallie, except that after our names were crossed off the list, we could then enter a voting booth. I nearly always know the person who crosses my name off the list, and it feels silly to hand over my license.

      DebRo

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  17. I suspect you are preaching to the choir here.
    The option of a mail in ballot is tempting, but here in Florida (!) I worry about the ballot getting lost and not counted. Wish we could track it online like Jenn.
    Florida this year is setting a record for crazy, convoluted constitution amendments. Things like one amendment putting greyhound racing together with vaping! What on earth is the connection there? Many are so confusing that people will either skip them or react to the first part without knowing there is more to it.
    Libby Dodd

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  18. The year was 1960. I was 6 years old going on seven. I remember seeing posters of John F. Kennedy. I asked my Dad and he explained elections to me. So I asked him who he would vote for. He told me that they would vote for Kennedy. I think I asked him or my mother, how someone would go about becoming a candidate for the Presidency. I think it was my mother who explained that usually elected officials started as lawyers and then ran for elective office. Presidents, she said, were usually Senators or Governors first. So I had my heart set then on becoming a lawyer.
    I don’t remember accompanying my parents to the polls until I was a little older. My father once or twice invited me into the booth with him. Up until very recently, it was that type of booth with a curtain and a mechanical counter that registered each voter’s choices. These days after pushing an electronic switch for each candidate or ballot initiative, you register your vote by pushing a larger button which says VOTE. I will probably vote mid-morning this year. There is seldom a long line. The poll workers are an affable bunch. Outside the firehouse, where we vote, are party volunteers handing out sample ballots. I have a new state I.D. which I always proffer but probably not technically necessary. I haven’t kept up with that piece of law. I never became a lawyer and would probably make a terrible politician. I am very grateful to be an American.

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    1. Great memories, David -- I'm just grateful that ANYONE wants to run for office these days. I imagine it can feel thankless at times.

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  19. Voting here will be easy, as it is just down the street, and I'm usually in and out quickly. I really wouldn't mind waiting though, because that would men that people are paying attention and getting out to cast their votes. I vote, no matter how small or large the election. I consider it my duty and privilege. Don't remember my first voting experience. Wish I did.

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  20. I will be voting on Tuesday. We can do early voting here, which I've only ever done once. The locations and times just never seem to work out. I've never tried voting by mail. And yeah, who writes those amendments? Also, there's no shame in voting for someone you later wished you hadn't. We're all voting for whoever we think is best with the information we have at the time. It would be more of a shame to sit out.

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  21. I refuse to vote by mail, so I will be voting Tuesday. (Don't ask me why I am hanging onto the past like this, but I am.) My polling place is an easy couple of minute walk from my front door. I just need to actually get out of bed so I can vote before work because I am going to an author signing an hour and a half away after work. If I get out of bed when my alarm goes off, it should be an issue at all. (Key there is "IF" I get out of bed when my alarm goes off....)

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    1. SET THE CLOCK! You're getting an 'extra' hour's sleep, for heavens sake.

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  22. I've always voted except for a primary where I was sick and one where my party had no choices to make. We vote at a local church in a booth with curtains and a machine to touch options and the final VOTE button. We just give our name and sign the book. I voted for Nixon my first time. He could have been a good president if he hadn't gotten paranoid and condoned dirty tricks. Also got my flu shot.

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  23. For the longest time I've followed the George Carlin train of thought about voting. He said that if you vote, you have no right to complain.

    Yes, I know most people turn that around, but he said that if you vote and you elect greedy, incompent, dishonest people, well then you are at fault, you elected them...YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN! George, on the other hand, who did not vote, who did not even leave the house on election day, had every right to complain as loudly as he wanted about the mess YOU created.

    And while it was hilarious, it made sense to my contrarian nature.

    However, I'm stepping into the mainstream school of thought on November 6th because this kind of gorram frelling horror of a freakshow cannot continue. It's embarrassing and needs to be put down like a rabid dog.

    I tend not to comment much on political stuff here or anywhere else as I'm generally either uninterested or distrusting of ALL politicians. And I can't pretend to care about issues that I don't.

    But enough is e-freaking-nough. I remember curtains by the way, but not when they went away.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go crash as I've spend two days covering the Rhode Island Comic Con and I'm pretty darn beat.

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  24. The first President I was old enough to vote for was Dwight David Eisenhower, our beloved General Ike. It's still fun to actually go to the polling place to vcte and see the neighbors--very convivial. Wish we also had cookies.

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  26. Joining in late - I was traveling - but must say how much I've loved this discussion. I remember very well how puzzled I was by those booths in my elementary school gym. My mom did not take her small children (3 in under 4 years!) with her, but she certainly voted. Grandmother too. My grandma came to the US from Poland at 11, had about 5 years of US education and yet was active in League of Women Voters right alongside the Smith and Vassar grads. I couldn't wait to vote. I live across the street from the school my daughters attended and now my granddaughter is there. In the heart of New York, it feels very small town and even Norman Rockwell. On Tuesday, I will both contribute to and work the election day bake sale (benefiting immigrant family aid). I won't be voting there! The district line runs down our street, so I will trot over to the high school,no doubt wait a long time, and mark and scan my ballot. We had booths until recently and I kind of miss them. And then hope and pray the voters get out in the swing states. I've done what I can this year, but not enough.

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