Elections now not like the past
Published: Saturday, October 30th, 2004
Most people I have listened to of late have stated rather strongly that they will be pleased when the election is over because they are tired of hearing all the mudslinging and even more tired of the many phone calls that have interrupted their lives. Maybe just those of us who are over the hill resent being called and asked how we are going to vote. One of the first lessons we learned as small children was to avoid asking such a question because voting was a private matter, and we shouldn’t ask personal questions if we didn’t want to be reprimanded. If someone wants to tell us how they voted, they have that right, but no one but the person voting has the right to know what marks are placed where in the voting booth. In the days of yore, people used to call most of the numbers in the book in order to ask the listener to vote for a particular candidate, and we accepted that as part of the campaigning practices whether or not we intended to vote for the candidate. Most of us were even polite enough to listen to the brief message and to wish the caller good luck, but now remaining polite is a bit difficult after the third or fourth call during the day. Of course, we do have the privilege of hanging up. but we shouldn’t have to feel that our privacy is being invaded just because someone somewhere is trying to work on a batch of statistics that may or may not be manipulated. We don’t really want to be a mere statistic anyway and surely don’t want to be asked such personal questions by perfect strangers who tend to call us by our first names as if they can trap us into thinking we are talking to a friend. In the dim, distant past, election time was rather pleasant and exciting as both candidates, their relatives, and their friends spent much time campaigning and attending the many gatherings throughout the county. During a short walk on Main Street, we might receive a handful of cards from the candidates and could stop almost anywhere along the way to listen to people talking about various races. We might even stop by one of the drug stores to see opposing candidates having coffee together while talking and laughing with each other instead of calling each other names and trying to cast shadows on the character of the opposition. Yes, Some votes might have been manipulated at a few precincts when challengers weren’t present and some ballots might have been destroyed in order to make the county come out as desired, but that didn’t happen to often and just added a little color to local politics, especially when some of the workers talked a little too much and caused a little unnecessary animosity. I remember one worker shedding buckets of tears as he explained how my dad lost rather heavily in an important box and thus lost one more race. A lot of stories could be told about our elections, but times have made those stories sound like folk tales when compared to all that goes on today before, during and after elections. We may not have the excitement of yesteryear, but we are certainly battered by the media and pollsters now. The important action we can take is in that voting booth, and we can but hope the machines are working so each vote counts. At least, we are fairly fortunate in our county because the ballots could be counted by hand should the machines go berserk, and that gives us a little confidence as that ballot disappears into a machine in one big hurry. After Tuesday, we should be able to return to whatever we were doing before all the battering began and can relax for a few months before having to thing about the next election.
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