Palaver from Persimmon Crossing — Voting
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Archive, Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Palaver from Persimmon Crossing
with Warren Faulk
Voting … Who,What,When & Why.
I think you should vote every chance you get. I would prefer that you cast an informed vote for what or who you think best, even if you don’t agree with me. I believe that if every eligible voter took the time to read about the people and issues, acted like they have a stake in what’s happening around them, we would end up with better results at every level.
My mother read the newspaper and listened to radio news broadcasts religiously every day. She was very opinionated, very often dissatisfied with election results, but as far as I know she never registered or voted in her life. She loved Lyndon Johnson, despised Ronald Reagan but …
My father was always being “drafted” for something. He was your basic solid type. When World War II came along he was an established merchant with two children. He immediately took a position as a block warden in the civil defense effort because he was asked to do so. Late in the war, when the demand for military manpower peaked he received a draft notice. The notice was hand delivered by the head of the local draft board with his deferment certificate already filled out and signed. He tore up the certificate and reported for duty. He served in the Pacific and came home mad at the Red Cross for SELLING coffee and doughnuts to people coming off the line … and determined never to read another newspaper because reporting of the war as he experienced it was so inaccurate. He just didn’t trust the media.
Still he became a Town Councilman and a Deacon. Carried out his own version of good citizenship. He even voted and served on the committees that totaled up the votes after elections. He did not; however, know how the system worked. When General Eisenhower and others were running for President he went to vote. When he came back I asked him if he had voted for the General. He said “no I voted the straight Democratic ticket, I’ll vote for him when they have the presidential election.” Well I have never been much of a diplomat. I yelled at him right in front of several of our grocery customers. I was just a little kid … his kid. If he had knocked me into the peanut bin it would have been fair. Instead he just blanched and walked away embarrassed. Rough way to become an informed voter.
Poll taxes were part of the mix during my childhood. I believe the tax was $1.50 per year or per election. I don’t think I had an opinion about whether they were appropriate at the time. I did know they were cumulative and I came to know that this worked to keep even middle class people home on election day. Poor people you could forget about … unless of course somebody rounded them up, paid their back tax, took them to the polls and encouraged them to vote a particular way.
By this perhaps unusual route I came to value my impending eligibility to vote. I graduated from high school, joined the Army and went off to Germany. I read the Stars and Stripes and subscribed to my hometown newspaper and as I approached voting age I began to try to register to vote by absentee ballot. No way Jose. “You have to be here during a particular six week period during the year, prove residency and take a literacy test.” By the time I achieved eligibility I was 28 years old, had logged 10 years in the military … yes combat … , learned to smoke and cuss and drink. I was a company commander. Nine of my men were fellow Alabamians, all old enough to vote, one of them a Sergeant Major. None of them had ever voted. Criminal! Unamerican! I’m sure my congressman cringed when he heard it was me on the phone the second time.
Finally I was qualified. I applied for an absentee ballot so that I could vote for Hubert Humphrey. Ha! The Anti-Voting monster had struck again. Alabama sent me a ballot that was printed on full sized newsprint. I mean you take your basic Wall Street Journal, open it up wide and there is your ballot filling up the entire space. As I recall there were 13 columns of electors. Each column had an obscure heading. One of these was “The Camel Back Republican Party”. None of the candidates for office were in anyway listed on the ballot. I sat down with two older residents of Alabama ( I was in Virginia at the time) and we picked that thing apart. We finally settled on one of the columns as likely to be for Mr Humphrey. Well I got to vote … for George Wallace as it turned out. A week later an instruction manual arrived describing how to interpret the ballot (the election was over). Of the 13 columns, eleven were for Mr Wallace, one was for Mr Humphrey and one was for the other guy. My congressman was sure sorry that had happened.
Things have gotten better. In fact it may be too easy. But don’t tell me it is too much trouble to vote. I know how much trouble it can be … and I can pass for white.
I’m not sure why we make people wait until they are “adults” to vote. Why not start them at 16 when they are eligible to drive. When some of them at least are taking civics classes. Make it real. Let the vote count. Instill the voting habit at a young age.
— Warren Faulk
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