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My Personal Side

By Craig Hastings
How do all of you feel about mass mailing federal election ballots to everyone as opposed to the good ol’ tried and true tradition of going to a polling location and casting your vote? Have people become so disconnected with our system of governance that they can’t muster enough effort to get out and vote? Sadly this is true and in a minority number always has been. It’s either too hot, too cold, too far, to many people, not enough time, not enough interest, etc. I’m old enough to remember very well the election days where both Republicans and Democrats had “callers” and “drivers” at the ready to make sure their own voters got to the polls. The callers watched closely who had and had not voted on election day. As time was ticking down the respective party caller would call their registered voter and ask first if they intended to vote and if so did they need a ride. The answer on the other end best be an affirmative “yes” because if not a whole bunch of “why not”, “we need you”, was on the way.  I witnessed all of this back in the day as a child. My dad was deep into the local Republican party’s interests. This was when the opposing parties locally were divided but still friendly to one another.  Elections played out locally much like a competitive sport.  Side bets were the illegal norm in the 60’s and all in fun and of competitive spirit.

If you’re someone in your twenties or thirties you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. You might think to yourself why in the world would anyone go to so much effort to make sure everyone registered with their party would vote on election day.  And, why in the world would anyone send a car to a voter’s home to pick them up, drop them off to vote, and then take them back home again?  People in their twenties and thirties probably don’t read this column so they won’t ask themselves anything!  But I’m going to answer the questions just in case maybe one of these forty years my younger picked up their parents Journal and gave it a glance this week. 

The answer to both questions is this; because these generations deeply cared about America. Why, because of the horrific World Wars they experienced. Both the Americans that lived and also those Americans that died will determine the direction any country will move, forward or backward. None of us could ever know which Americans died that might have been our next great president, governor, or legislator. So it’s important, very important, that those of us that do not want to be one of those Americans that steers the ship for the rest that we at least take the time to vote for our captain.  So why so little interest today in our elections?  I think the answer is because the younger generations following my own don’t see the importance in whoever might win any office up for election. I think too many Americans think too much about just their own interest and not those of America as a whole.  I don’t think they realize that America wasn’t always the almighty powerhouse it is today.  Forty years ago America was leaving Vietnam and not because America had conquered their opponent because we didn’t. 

My teenage generation at the time had our eyes opened wide.  The whole Vietnam debacle caused a large portion of Americans here at home to lose confidence and trust in not only our own government leaders but also our military.  This is what makes elections matter!  For the next twenty years presidential elections mattered to most Americans. My god, if we went to war again my generations wanted people at the top that understood what it took to win so we voted!  The generations that have followed my own have never experienced a vote of “no confidence” in a time of war.  President Bush’s military walked all over the Iraqi forces and won handily.  This is all the war that the generations following my own know.  I think that they don’t think it matters who is at the top nor who sits in Congress backing him/her up.

So, I think it is absolutely necessary that each voter, in every state, got to their designated polling place and cast their own vote.  I want you to be identified as a registered voter, walk through the line, and be handed one, and just one ballot.  Absentee voters excluded.  I do have confidence in the absentee method of casting your vote.  What I don’t believe will ever work is a mass mailing to any “name” someone happens to submit on a list of alleged registered voters.  There is absolutely no way to make sure the person the ballot was mailed to will be the person that fills it out and casts the votes.  Elections are important and they matter.  They are important enough that each of us wanting to have a say in who leads us can at least make an effort to get to the polls.  If someone doesn’t want to make the effort then their vote shouldn’t be counted.  If someone physically can’t get to a polling place, contact one of the candidates you intend to cast your vote.  They will make sure you get a ride and assistance in order to vote.  One last thought.  I’m not entirely sold on making everyone provide some sort of photo identification at the polls in order to vote.  I fear this will become an instance where that photo ID becomes too specific in itself discouraging people from voting.  Mailing millions of ballots in stacks of thousands that can be intercepted by anyone is certainly the gateway to voter fraud.  If it happens, America’s voting system will have failed the people completely and our system of government will be lost.

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