He Had To Vote

He Had To Vote

SilverPenKen, 11/11/16

My phone rang early on Election Day. Jan said her husband was in the hospital. He had a stroke, but he wanted to vote. “Was there any way he could do it,” she asked. I didn’t think so but said she could run to our polling place and talk with the Chief Judge.

Late that afternoon Jan and her husband walked in, very slowly. Al was limping badly, his face motionless. Fortunately, the polling place was not crowded.

Jan watched him check in and receive his voter card. She let him talk for himself.  It took several minutes. When they came toward me to get his ballot privacy sleeve, Al offered his left hand to shake and asked how I was doing. He gave no sign of self-pity.

Another judge guided him to a voting booth where he could sit down, and Jan and I waited for what seemed a very long time. Finally, he stood up, bracing himself on a table, and we all walked very slowly toward the scanner. He inserted a page of his ballot, and the machine rejected it. It showed a message – something like “extraneous marks.” Jan was about to ask him to complete another ballot when the Chief Judge suggested he try putting it in another way.  The scanners in our county accept ballots either side up and in either direction.

Cries of “First Time Voter” rang out for a young man as Al turned his ballot around and tried again. The machine was merciful. It accepted the page and also accepted Page 2.

As a student helper gave Al an “I voted” sticker, his wife told us he had just been dismissed from the hospital and she was driving him to another location for intensive rehabilitation. He had asked her to stop on the way so he could vote.

In most U.S. presidential elections, just over half of the people of voting age actually cast ballots, and this man struggled to cast his as he was transferring between medical facilities. What a great example of doing one’s civic duty!

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