Thursday, September 11, 2008
Running late here. Working full time is digging into my blog posting time. It is late at night now. I have to get up early tomorrow morning to be at work by 7 AM. However, I did want to post a blog about my voting experience on Tuesday. I wasn't aware that Tuesday was primary voting day. I'm from Pennsylvania where the primary election takes place in the spring. The last several years I worked the polls at a church nearby my home. It was a job I looked forward to every year. I got a chance to meet many of my neighbors plus participate in democracy. From my earliest memory I've been interested in politics. In fact, my earliest memory of a political convention was the 1952 Democratic Convention in which Adlai Stevenson threw his choice of vice president to the open convention. Estes Keufauver was selected. There have been many conventions since. I've watched all of them. Perhaps the most traumatic for me was the 1968 Democratic Convention that was held in Chicago Illinois. I couldn't believe the violence that was meted out to the Vietnam anti war protesters by the Chicago police. Perhaps the second most traumatic convention for me was the 1992 Republican Convention that was held in Houston Texas. At that convention both Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan delivered hate filled homophobic speeches that were heartily cheered by the Republican convention goers. That was when I realized that the Republican Party didn't want me as a member. I am gay and both Pats made it clear that the Republican Party did not welcome gay men and women. I switched my registration to Democrat, not so much because I embraced all of the Democratic Party ideals but because I wanted to continue to vote in the primaries. Both Pennsylvania and Delaware require a vote to be registered to a particular party to vote. Independents do not vote unless it is for an independent candidate. I remember so well how I couldn't wait to vote for the first time. The first time I voted one had to be 21 years old. This was ironic because I joined the Army when I was 18 and didn't get out until I was 21 years old. Thus, even though I was serving my country, I couldn't vote. Thank goodness that inequity has been addressed. I have voted for almost every election since. Even if I didn't know all the local issues or local candidates, I felt it was my responsibility to vote. For the life of me, I cannot understand how anyone can complain about our current state of affairs and not vote. It just boggles my mind. That said, I voted yesterday. This is the second time I've voted in Delaware. I'll say one thing, they don't make it easy to vote in Delaware. First, I didn't even know it was voting day. Secondly, I didn't know where to vote. One has to do some digging. Thank goodness a good friend of mine who I was visiting on Tuesday asked me if I voted. I said "Vote? Is it election day today?" He said "Yes." I live in a different jurisdiction than my friend so after I left him I went on the hunt to where I vote. I live in the Milton district of Sussex County. I stopped at a local fruit and vegetable stand. I asked where to vote. The young man who was selling fresh ears of corn and tomatoes (I bought some), said they moved the polling place again. I asked where it is now. He told me the local school up the road from his stand. I get in my car and weave my way up the road into the school ground at about 10 MPH. School is in session. It's been a long time since I've been in a school building with students. In fact, it has been almost 50 years (the last time I was in school.) I have to say, I didn't like it. After some difficulty, I find the voting area. I approach the table manned (and womaned) by several senior citizens who volunteer their time to work at the polling state (why no young people?) I say my last name "Tipton." The elderly lady says "Lipson?" I say "No, Tipton." She says "Lipson?" again. I say again "TIPTON!" Well, to make a long story short, she didn't have my name. They advised me to go to the other polling station which was another school. Oh goody. This was an elementary school at the other end of the town. Now, the last time I was in an elementary school was maybe 60 years ago! Again, no easy thing finding the registration desk. However, I did find it, announced my name. Someone repeated my name (as we poll workers are supposed to do - that is the same procedure in both states), and then said "DEMOCRAT!" Damn right. DEMOCRAT! I was directed to a curtained voting booth. Upon entering and studying the names on the ballot, I realized I did not know any of them nor where they stood on the issues. That is my fault. I've been too busy with my own day to day life and concentrating too much on the national political scene. Besides, I don't get local TV because I have satellite TV by DirecTV which doesn't provide local channels. I'll blame DirecTV. Still, I voted and again got that feeling of butterflies in my stomach like I always do when I vote. As always, I experienced that indescribable feeling of pride and gratefulness that I always do when I vote. The next time I vote, I will know who I am voting for. That will be the presidential election in November. I will vote to end the great national nightmare of the past eight years.