Back when the precinct was outside my door


This was in my living room. I might have been rounding up
stray voters at this point.

In my day, elections came right up to my bedroom. Literally.

I grew up in rural Oklahoma, and the precinct in my neck of the woods was our “sleeping porch,” a rectangular addition to our house just outside the French doors to my room. Folks would load up in pickups and pull into our big oval driveway and wander up to the sleeping porch … to vote.

Back when I was grade-school age, I thought of how cool it was to have national, state or local issues decided just outside my room.

In the morning, I’d wander from my room into the precinct to make small talk with the locals … you know, shake a few hands, slap some backs. I was about 8 years old, but I felt it was important to let the voters know they were doing the right thing by voting in our precinct.

After gladhanding for a while, Mom would call me over to the registration table (Mom was the precinct chairwoman) and hand me a ballot and the little square rubber ink stamp with the “X” on the end.

I’d pore over the pulpy ballot, trying to recognize the names that blared from our black-and-white console Zenith that was sitting a couple of rooms away.

“Hmmm,” I would say aloud, scratching my chin.

Then, I’d put the rubber stamp vote on the name that I recognized, trying to maneuver around the big word “Sample” that was in the middle of the ballot.

I’d make my choices, hand my ballot to Mom, then head back to my room to play with my G.I. Joes or Hot Wheels, knowing that I’d done my part as a voter.

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