If you love to crab, then you love to vote

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In just a few weeks, we will be heading to the polls to vote in our Primary Election. We will be choosing candidates for governor, secretary of state, District 24 lawmaker, state attorney general, etc. Locally, we will ultimately be choosing our county sheriff and folks in District 3 will be choosing a new county commissioner as all the candidates are Republicans. The Heartland School District will be making a decision about important bond issues.

There will be a lot to consider, as there always is when election time rolls around.

While some things have changed over the years, in the new variety of ways we can cast our ballots, the fundamental importance has remained the same.

In today’s world, the physical voting on Election Day takes places in towns. I’m of the age where I actually remember voting taking place out in the country. Just as we had small one-room schools scattered about the rural landscape, we also had tiny buildings here and there for casting ballots.

They sat vacant with no activity (except for farmers taking turns mowing around them in the summer) – but they’d burst with action on Election Day.

The ladies in the area would man the polls – and the sandwich table. It almost became a gathering place of sorts.

Grandma Onie always made her tuna salad sandwiches. Mom would break out the one good Tupperware container to pack ham or dried beef creations.

Sometimes I’d get to go along – to see all the activity – as they dropped off sandwiches and cast their ballots. I remember I always got a sticker on my shirt that said I voted – although the only thing I did there was get an orange mustache from the Tang they served out of metal drink coolers.

My dad always took Election Day seriously. Normally, he was all about work. The only events that would make him stop everything would be the birth of a baby (and only if it was crowning), deer season, our Christmas programs, maybe a funeral and always Election Day.

No matter how much he had to do, he made sure to run to that little building, cast his ballot and grab a sandwich on his way out.

I remember going with him once. I watched his lanky body hunch over in the voting booth, with his big fingers holding a pencil that was way too small. We weren’t there long, but I wondered who and what he was voting for. I never asked because Grandma said that was secret.

The secrecy was beyond me because everyone always did so much yelling about the state of the country, I figured they should already pretty much know what the others were thinking.

So we would ramble home in the blue pickup – him eating his sandwich and me drinking Tang from a Styrofoam cup.

“It’s a big day,” he said to me. “Pretty important.”

I inquired as to why.

“We’re picking our president today,” he responded. “The guy in charge of the country.”

“The whole country?” I asked, gasping at the thought of one person telling everyone else what to do.

“That’s why no matter what, we have to make sure to cast our ballots,” he said, shaking his finger at me.

Again, I inquired as to why.

“Because if you don’t vote, you can’t bitch about how things go later,” he said. “People who don’t vote can’t bellyache, complain or crab about how things are, if they didn’t even take the time to officially say who they thought was good for the job. If you love to crab, then you love to vote.”

It stuck with me. A year later, we were sitting at Grandma Onie’s Christmas table and Grandpa Andy was going on and on about something political. He ranted and raved, ranted and raved. In my juvenile misunderstanding of protocol regarding children addressing adults, I decided to pipe up.

“Grandpa, did you vote for the president the last time around?” I asked.

My parents looked at each other, maybe a little shocked, and the table went quiet.

“Well, no, well, I can’t remember,” Grandpa said. “No, actually, I didn’t. Remember, I was down with the shingles. Right Grandma? Wasn’t it the shingles and I was in all that pain?”

Grandma said she didn’t think the shingles afflicted him that particular November, which drove Grandpa nuts. His political tirade was now directed at Grandma because she disagreed about the month last year when the shingles arrived.

“Well, she’s right, Dad,” my father said. “If you love to crab, then you love to vote. You can’t do one without the other.”

Now that Grandpa had been caught with his political pants down, he was embarrassed and the conversation switched from sin tax to shingle treatments.

I don’t remember Grandpa ever skipping the polls again. Heck, we kids drove him to vote after he was too old and we were old enough. He always insisted on voting . . . and crabbing.

The theory is true. If you don’t vote, you have vetoed your right to say anything about the way things are in our nation, our state, our county, our towns, our school districts.

By not voting, you’ve passed up your one official chance to have a real opportunity to participate in our democracy.

So I continue to remember what my dad said and I suspect maybe yours did too . . . if you love to crab, then you love to vote.


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