Election Day Reflection

40 years ago today, I voted for the first time. It was the 1976 Presidential election and I remember walking to the Lutheran church in the small Illinois town where I was attending college and having a large paper ballot to mark. Within a few years, I was one of the precinct poll watchers for one of the two parties. I had two sets of lists to mark and the precinct committeemen (who, if I am remembering correctly, was one of the professors at the college) would come in and take one of the lists and give me another one.

Twelve hours ago, I stood in line with my oldest son, recently turned 21 and this was the line that had formed 10 minutes before the polls were open.


This was his first time voting and his first Presidential election.  Here are some thoughts and photos about what I was thinking earlier today.

you know you’ve lived in a small town for quite a while when you are greeted by people you haven’t seen in a while…

…when you know the pastor of the church where you go to vote…

you give one of the precinct workers a hard time for having to be ‘carded’ because you know you look way over 21 and she replies,  ‘just barely.’

Your son talks to one of his former high school teachers while standing in line…who taught his government class

You see your neighbor at the front of the line and then hear that he has been there since before 5 AM…

The parking lot is packed and people park in the grass and one has to get pulled out of the muck because the front wheels have sunk in the ground!

You notice the young couple in front of you with their two young children and realize your voting will have some kind of an impact on them when they are your age.

And having read a bio/autobio of every American president, you think of Andrew Jackson and his railing against the status quo and viperous nature of the attacks on him and by him in the 1828 election as well as the loss to John Quincy Adams in 1824 via the US House of Representatives vote 

You are grateful for the privilege and responsibility of voting and it makes you want to sing for the right reasons, “God Bless America,” out loud…

I also carried this in my pocket today…



It was my late father’s Combat Infantryman Badge.  I was struck by the realization that while my 21 year old son was voting with me, 1952 would have been the year my late father turned 21 and could vote. Maybe he did but it is very likely…he was on the front lines in South Korea when the ’52 election was being held.


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