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November 9, 2011: Democracy in a Small Place

The only town where I've ever exercised my right to vote is Winterset, Iowa, county seat of Madison County, population 4978. At age 20, I moved here from Texas, where legal voting age had been 21. My first presidential election was in 1972, Richard Nixon vs. George McGovern.

My voting place for local, state, and national elections has been in several locations over the years—the county fairgrounds, VFW and American Legion Halls, the county courthouse—but the voting booths have always been the same. Each time I've voted, whether for President of the United States or on a community school bond issue, I've stepped into a tiny metal-framed cubicle and placed my ballot on a narrow shelf where my instrument of democracy was not the handle of a voting machine, but a thick wooden pencil tied to a corner of the booth with a piece of string.

Many people feel an individual's vote doesn't do much, and that may be true, but I am personally moved each time I stand inside the small square of freedom made private for me by a short, stiff curtain of red, white, and blue striped fabric. The names on my ballot often briefly blur.

Each time, I remind myself that others before me secured the right to vote for women. Others made property-ownership as a voting requirement illegal. Others insisted upon suffrage for American citizens regardless of skin color.

In Madison County, Iowa, I don't risk my life to cast my vote; all I do is pick up a pencil.

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:
You will treasure your freedoms.

 

 

 

Posted on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 by Registered CommenterMarianne Fons | CommentsPost a Comment | References9 References

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