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Monday, November 5, 2012

The Right To Vote

If you are US citizen, tomorrow you have the opportunity to vote.  Our right to vote is very important to my family.  My mom taught 5th grade American Government and Constitution for years.  My dad was the chairman of our township (shout out to Wise Township!) until they left for the winters, almost 40 years.

When I was young, our township had its own poll...the old school house.  I would go with my dad and get the heater started and dust the desks and tables and benches so that our neighbors could come vote.  My mom would make donuts and coffee.

As our neighbors filed in, Dad would have to ask, "Name?  Address?", even though he knew them by heart.  He dutifully recorded the information in his ledger and issued the ballot.  Our neighbors would step across the room, into the voting booth and perform their civic duty.

While the voting booth (and there was only one) was occupied, spouses, children and neighbors drank election coffee and ate election donuts, and visited around the old stove.  I snuggled too close to the stove one year and started my wool sweater on fire!

If someone didn't show up by mid-afternoon, Dad would call them and remind them to "come vote down at the schoolhouse, we'll be here until 5".  At 5, Dad would close the poll, drop me off at home and go to Washburn (our county seat) with the locked box of ballots to certify the vote.

That was what an election was to me.  A time when the community came together to cast their ballots.  I dreamed of the day when I was 18 and could vote at the school house.

But two years before my election inauguration, our beloved little country school poll was closed.  Now we had to vote in TOWN.  (Town being a relative term, there's 40 people that live there.)  It just wasn't the same, but my parents' commitment to their civic duty WAS the same.  They never missed an opportunity to vote.

When I went to college, my dad made sure I had an absentee ballot so that I could vote on local issues.

This year, as I filled out my absentee ballot, I thought of my dad who devoted countless hours of his time so that his family and his neighbors could vote.  And I thought of my mom who taught hundreds of students the importance of their right to vote.

It doesn't matter where you lie on the political spectrum, I don't like labels.  But there is one label we all should wear on the first Tuesday in November, VOTER.  Be one!

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