Sunday, November 04, 2012

A Worthwhile Tradition



Back in the late 1950s when the geezer edited the De Pere Journal-Democrat, a weekly paper in a small city near Green Bay, patriotism ran rampant at election time. De Pere billed itself as “The All-American City.”  The self-conferred title resulted from the amazing rate of voting by citizens.

In the election year I lived in De Pere, 98 percent of the eligible voters in the population of about 9,000 cast a ballot.

I don’t recall getting an “I voted” sticker at the polling place, but they weren’t needed. People, some perfect strangers, asked me throughout the day whether I had voted.  A standard comment was, “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.” Voting simply was something everyone did in De Pere. There was no tolerance for those who skipped their civic duty.

At Journal Publishing, the owner toured the printing plant early in the day and told every employee to make sure to take the time off needed to go and cast a vote. Other business owners throughout the city were known to do that.

I don’t know if De Pere has maintained the “All-American City” tradition. I hope so. I do know only about half of the eligible voters in the U.S. are going to bother to cast a vote in our current very important presidential election.

Perhaps some friendly competition among cities to see which one can claim the voting title might do all of us a favor.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I worry that too many people vote who don't really understand the issues, history or government. Sure, everyone has the right to vote, but I think those who aren't interested are even less likely to make wise choices.

Dick Klade said...

I agree--people shouldn't be forced to vote. However, the social pressure to do so in places like the De Pere of yore serves notice that everyone should be devoting a bit of time to thinking about how they will vote.

I always vote, but when candidates or propositions I know nothing about appear on the ballot, I skip them. It seems fair to assume many people would do likewise.

schmidleysscribblins,wordpress.com said...

We are going to vote tommorrow for sure and like you we live in one of those yellow toss-up states.

My grandparents lived in Green Bay all their lives and are buried there (FT Howard Cemetery?).

Grandma was a 50+ year memember and president of the GB Women's Club which encourged civic behavior such as voting.

She would haunt me if I failed in my civic duty.

Dianne

PiedType said...

I don't consider voting a duty or a responsibility. I consider it a precious right, a right that people have fought for and died to preserve. Even in this country, women have not always had the right to vote, and that just underscores its importance.

I've never missed a chance to vote and have difficulty imagining why anyone would.

Dick Klade said...

Dianne: I know there is a Fort Howard cemetery, so that most likely is where your grandparents are buried. Especially in toss-up states, our votes count a lot, but they count wherever they are cast. There always are some local issues, even if the national offices are not in doubt.

Pied: Like the way you look at it. Voting is a right, and all Americans should exercise it

Kay said...

HALF? Seriously? Half? That is just so sad. I believe Hawaii suffers from that apathy too. People are thinking it won't make a difference no matter who wins. I have already voted by absentee ballot and we made sure my mother got one written in Japanese so she could vote too.