My favorite voting memory would have to be the first time I was eligible to vote at our town meeting in March of 1990. I live in NH and we still hold yearly town meetings, a perfect example of direct democracy at work. That year every senior in high school in our town who was eligible
to vote made sure we got registered and we turned the tide for one ballot item that year.
As I said I grew up in a tiny little town in northern NH. A town that is to this day very fond of its history, so when the three-story k-12 school needed to be replaced there were many in town who were against it no matter what. It would take a piece of our town’s history away.
It was a gorgeous building, I’ll admit that. The main staircase set off to one side of the main floor where the trophies of many decades of sports domination could be on display. The interior for the most part was shiny mahogany. The staircase in question was open to the third floor, so a student, if they wanted could yell from the third floor and get their friend’s attention on the first between classes (not that, that ever happened.)
The second floor held not only three classrooms, one being set up as a science lab, but it also had the business dept., girls’ bathroom, and the entire front of the building housed a study hall room complete with the old desks that the back of one chair was the front of the next desk.
The third floor, however, was what ultimately made our class decide to empower our own civic prowess. The third floor housed three classrooms, and the library for the entire K-12 school. Our senior year, that floor was condemned. Only the librarian and like two other people were allowed up there because of weight limit concerns. If you needed a book you would need to put in a request for it and wait. Remember this was back before the internet and google. We were still using encyclopedias. How did we ever get through the day?
We had two social studies teachers at the time who were both old enough to have participated in the protests of the late 60’s and early 70’s. They lived through Nixon and any other political strife that era had to offer. This experience gave them a healthy dose of civic duty, and the power of the people. They encouraged us, against the wishes of many people in town to register and vote at the town meeting for a new school building.
The night of town meeting, we all met at the school where the meeting was held and sat together. The school building vote was last, and it was done by secret ballot. In a town meeting in NH many of the votes are a show of hands, but not the important ones. It was a daunting thing to line up while adults that you have known your entire life stare you down and try to intimidate you.
We held strong though and the vote passed by a slim margin that would not have happened had it not been for us, who were living in the situation of a school that was passed its use, standing
up and making our voices heard. Since then I have never missed a state or national election, and rarely have I missed a town meeting, but do go and vote on the items I can vote on if I am unable to attend the actual meeting.
I think that adults in many ways would prefer to stifle the voices of newly minted adults because they feel that they don’t have the experience or knowledge to make educated decisions. However, I know too many adults, long in the tooth, who vote one way or the other regardless of any issues, because they have always voted that way.
Don’t ever discount the young voters and their passion to be involved and to make a difference. And if you know a person who just turned 18 encourage them to get registered and vote, in fact go with them the first time so it isn’t so scary. I made sure both of my daughters registered to vote when they turned 18 and went with them the first time to go through the motions, so they didn’t feel alone.
I am proud to say, the daughter who lives close by stopped in this morning to say hi after she went to the polls to vote. I will no doubt get a picture of my other daughter later in her mask with a sticker that says, “I voted”. That makes for a very proud mama!
Go vote people!
Next up we have Leslie Hachtel Enjoy your day!