I think I can be fairly confident in saying there has never, in the history of our country, been a presidential race such as we've experienced this year. Personally, I'll be very glad when it's over. I'm also crossing my fingers (although that may be a supremely ineffectual gesture) our new president elect doesn't push our country and sadly devolving society farther down the slippery slope of disaster.
Reading Susan's (e-i-e-i-omg-bybiddie.blogspot.com) blog entry this morning, in which she mentioned stopping at her local polling place before heading to work, I was reminded of when we lived on our first piece of property here in Minnesota.
The area was very much rural (and still is) with the polling place located in the quite old but much used (and still is) town hall. I served with a few other locals on the election committee under the head judge, a delightful 80-plus year old lady, who had done her job faithfully for many, many years. When she passed away, I moved into her position and thoroughly enjoyed serving with the others until we moved out of that particular district.
At that time, we handed out the ballots as voters came in and up to our "official" table. They then took the materials to a chair at one of the long tables set up around the perimeter of the large, open hall. The completed ballots were inserted into one of two metal ballot boxes which could have been, I'm sure, classified as antiques. Although not in the best of shape after goodness-knows-how-many years of service, they were rather ornate with a lid secured by a padlock.
It was typically a time of seeing and visiting with nearly all the members of our small community and a festive air permeated the whole day. Often we would see two people seated in a corner spending even an hour in conversation catching up on each other's lives. It wasn't uncommon to have someone come in to vote and before they left inquire as to whether so-and-so had been in yet. If not, could they please leave a pair of goves for them that had been left behind on the church pew last Sunday? Or would we kindly deliver the message to Mr. XYZ's brother-in-law when he stops in after work that his chain saw is repaired and he can stop by and pick it up on his way home.
There were always volunteers from the community who were on hand to drive miles over gravel roads to pick up a voter, bring him or her in to vote, and deliver them back home again. This service was a godsend on election days when we experienced icy roads and/or inches of falling snow.
Children, whose parents voted after school hours, came along and got to view the whole process. What better way to learn than actually witnessing their parents exercising their democratic rights.
These days Papa Pea and I fill out our ballots and cast them via snail mail. Although we're still voting, it's certainly not at all the same as it was back in the old town hall and the sense of community and "human-ness" generated then.
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