John Clark with a soap box moment. Douglas Rooks’ opinion piece in today’s Waterville Sentinel begins thusly: “Tuesday will mark the 50th anniversary of my first vote. Since 1972, I’ve voted in 12 presidential elections and 11 previous midterms, and on a lot of other occasions. “
He might as well have been describing me. Like many of my generation, I wasn’t able to vote at a time when my emotions and involvement was at fever pitch in the late 1960s. Once I was able to register, I vowed never to miss a state or national election and I’ve been able to do so.
In the last decade, I’ve gone beyond simply voting, have gone to several state conventions as a delegate, run for the state legislature, and this year, have campaigned on weekends for Democrats in two counties. When asked to do a bit more by the Progressive Turnout Project, I signed on to purchase 100 postcards and stamps. The organization emailed me a list of 100 registered voters in numerous states from Maine to New Mexico. I addressed each card, added a message to encourage them to vote, as well as thanking them for doing so, and mailed them on October 28th. The process, thanks to arthritic hands and nearly illegible penmanship, took the better part of three days. Will it have an impact? I hope so, but actions like the ones I have taken during this election cycle are important, if only to make me feel as though I’ve done the best I can.
My recent tumble off a stone wall while picking apples that resulted in my landing face first on a tar road, cut short some of what I wanted to do, as well as dope-slapping any remaining feelings of dexterity and ability to do things like I could just a few years ago. I’m sure my emotional state would be worse if I hadn’t gotten involved in the activities described above.
I have one more contribution to democracy this time around. I’m going to a training session this evening so I can be a ballot clerk next Tuesday. God help anyone who tries to harass me on election day.
You have one simple job after reading this-Get off your butt and VOTE. It ain’t rocket science, and I’m not asking/telling you who, or what to vote for. While you’re at it, grab a friend and take them too. If you want to do more, contact the local office of the party of your choice and volunteer to drive folks to the polls. This is just as important in a city as it is in T9, R7.
Think we can’t make a difference? Read this article, then Go vote! https://www.bangordailynews.com/2022/11/02/news/central-maine/pittsfield-library-budget/
John, I hope you and your face make a speedy recovery. Thank you for your efforts to preserve democracy. I voted by absentee ballot as soon as it arrived, kind of in terror wondering if *my* arthritic signature matched what’s on file. I supposed humans have always lived in alarming times; we just know about every awful single thing now through the media. But frankly, I’m pretty tired of the awful.
Registering to vote was one of my proudest days. My aunt witnessed my Freeman’s Oath. Six years ago today my father died. His death caused me to miss the presidential election. Since that time I have been increasingly harassed by some voting organization that sends me multiple (10 or more) mailings to remind me to vote. According to their own statistics I’ve voted in more elections than most people in Maine, but every year I get a reminder of my father’s death and my failure to vote in one election since 1976. It’s enough to make a person scream.
Thanks for all you’ve done to motivate people to vote. I motivate a lot of people when I tell them I vote. They’re going to the polls to ‘cancel’ my vote. 😉
I have to tell you something that will bewilder you. I was living at the top of State Street in Portland on Longfellow Square. My top story bedroom window looked down over the square and the statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. A woman from San Francisco and I, native of Portland, Maine, were sharing the apartment with seven young men from Pittsfield, Maine, who had all reached voting age within the past two years. They talked incessantly about the Presidential candidates, railing against the Republican candidates, primarily. They complained about practically every aspect of society, politics and ways of thinking and living. This went on night and day for the two months I lived there, in September and October of 1972. I moved home to help my mother through a hard time at the end of October, but I told the guys that I would be there after voting hours in November to ask who they had decided to vote on.
The November 1972 Presidential election was the first in which I was legal to vote. I cast my vote with pride and excitement. I was exercising my right to choose who would lead our country for the next four years. After my university classes, I climbed the several flights to the top floor apartment where I had listened to the political and social discussions of these boys, eager to hear what they had to say about the day. I could hear music and the apartment door was ajar. When I came in, I knew my eyes must be shining with happy tears.
The boys were sitting around in a loose circle in the front room, slumped in the dark, their faces barely lit only by the street lights of State and Congress Streets. I could smell the sweet funky smoke of their favorite “wacky weed,” as they called it. They looked almost unliving, a sharp contrast to how very much alive and vibrant I felt. Some of my joy dissipated in that moment. Something was very wrong. They weren’t saying anything. They weren’t engaged in ranting and raving about anything. They were just there, melted in heaps of themselves.
“I’ve cast my votes today for the first time,” I told them, still wanting to feel the same anticipation I’d felt on my way up the stairs. “Did you all vote, too?”
The silence was painful.
“Well, come on, who did you vote for?”
I saw the shadows of their heads against the street lights below. They each began to shake their heads. One of them said, “We didn’t go.”
“Not even one of you? After all the ranting and raving you’ve done about the candidates and what you see as the lousy situation of everything in the world?”
More silence. The heads dropped forward into the shadows.
“You are unbelievable! I listened to you for two full months and got really excited about my opportunity to cast my vote! And here you are, all of you too lazy to get off your duffs, stand up and cast your vote. This was our new right, and you’ve squandered it!”
One of them said, “I couldn’t make up my mind.”
Another said, “They are all assholes, anyway.”
Another said, “It won’t make any difference.”
I was so disgusted with them, I spoke in a way I had not until that moment.
“YOU are the assholes. You are the ones who won’t make any difference. You have nothing to say that is worth hearing. I’m ashamed of you.”
I went out the door and never went back.
And I’ve never missed the opportunity to vote, except one extraordinarily busy work day when I honestly forgot. It was a local election for the municipality in which I then lived and worked. The day after I forgot, I learned that a man whose ideas were anathema to me had been voted in as a new City Councilor. He had won by ONE VOTE. I berated myself for missing that, and over a decade later, I’m still upset that I missed that vote. That man did some minor damage to the town in a number of ways.
I wanted to tell you about those boys from Pottstown, because I see you are from there. You probably know them or their families. I won’t name names. I think I succeeded in shaming them adequately that day. As to how they’ve fared and perhaps how they’ve grown and changed since then, I don’t know.
I just hope they never missed a chance to vote after that.
Thanks for your energies and hard work. You are a blessing.
Old Orchard Beach, Maine
YOU voted. If you watch and listen to those around you, every so often you’ll hear or see something like what you experienced.It’s like dealing with a drunk. They gotta wanna, or all the effort in the world amounts to squat. I doubt I’ll ever understand the human race.
By the way, I typed that the boys were from Pittston, but Spellcheck once again assumed I meant something other than I had typed, and that I must have meant to type Pottstown. No, I did not, Spellcheck. I keep meaning to turn that off! 😆
I have been working the polls here in Ohio for several years. Had put in my name to be called but nothing happened for many election cycles. Just had a refresher training session this afternoon. It included for the first time a whole 30 minutes on defusing situations. I also found out that because of legislation past this year by our Republican legislature voters can carry loaded guns into the polling place!! Now, instead of having to deal with loud, poorly informed constituents demanding whatever because so and so said they could, I have to worry they might shoot me if they don’t like what I tell them. Holy sh*t!!
That’s truly horrifying!