November 14, 2012

Voting for young and old

SUSAN TOBIAS, Pinch of Time

---- — Only about five weeks until Christmas. My goodness, how did this year go by so fast?

Once we vote on Election Day, it seems that the turkey gobbles and then it’s Ho-Ho-Ho time, followed by making New Year’s resolutions. 

I was quite surprised on Election Day, not only that my voting location had been changed, but that the technique we use to vote had also been changed.

We pulled into the parish hall at St. Mary’s of the Lake, and when we didn’t see many cars, we figured we had timed our arrival just right. Then my husband noticed kids in the hall dancing and we figured we were in the wrong place, after 20-plus years of voting there. The sign on the window said Cumberland Head Fire Department was the new location. Funny, I don’t remember getting a notice that it had changed.

When I walked into the fire station, I was very surprised there were no voting machines. It’s only been the past few years that I mastered the “select one button in this row” technique. Actually, it was rather satisfying to hear that “tick” sound every time a selection locked in. Then, the big thrill of pulling the huge handle, hearing “KATHUNK” and breathing a sigh of relief when the curtains opened and another election was behind me. The next step was to head over to the food-sale tables to buy some goodies.

Basically, we are back to where we began, voting with paper and a pencil, rather a marker, in this case. Not that I have a hard time following directions, but I have to admit I did go outside of the lines trying to fill in those dots. 

I was glad my husband sat next to me at the table, because those little “screens” didn’t give much privacy. He easily looked around the screen to ask me a couple of questions. If a stranger were sitting there, how do I know he or she wouldn’t cheat and vote opposite my vote, negating my choice? 

The most surprising part of voting this year was the “slurp” machine; that’s the sound it made when I fed it my ballot. I waited anxiously for the little screen to say I was successful, which it did, but for a prolonged few seconds I wasn’t so sure.

Now if only they keep the same polling place and the same voting method for the next time we vote, it will be a cinch. 

I talked to my daughter in Colorado, and she told me I’d be proud of our four grandchildren and their friends. Everybody 18 and over voted for the first time this year. They read the guidelines, talked over the candidates and the issues and voted their own minds. One of them, Jaque, was a little worried when her brother, Toby, had not voted yet at 4 p.m. She told her mother, “Toby better go vote on his dinner break, and he better vote Republican or he’s going to be in trouble with this family.” I love opinion in young adults. She knew who she wanted to win, and she voiced her opinion. 

As we all know now, the Republican didn’t win, but what a great lesson in citizenship, to vote for the first time. Some may say an 18-year-old doesn’t know what they are doing, voting that young, to which I say, if they can join our military and put their lives on the line for our country, then they are old enough to vote. 

Well, guess it’s time to move on to that other November event, Thanksgiving. This time next week, we’ll be up to our collective elbows in making stuffing and pies and getting ready for family to visit. If you know somebody who will be alone on Thanksgiving, take a plate of turkey and trimmings to them and visit a bit; or if you are alone, there are community dinners that will welcome you with open arms. Please don’t be alone.

I absolutely am not ready to be seeing Christmas ads on TV or hearing Christmas songs in the stores yet, but Thanksgiving night, the brave among us will be camping out all night at their favorite store for Black Friday deals. Like a starting gun at a race, the Christmas rush will be off and running. 

It’s time for me to stop thinking about those homemade gifts I’m going to make and get busy making them. All I can say is, for all of this — freedom, family, friends, faith — I am most thankful.

One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.

Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at