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I Approve of This Message

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Working as an election judge has been our privilege for many years since we retired to Vernon County. I have met many dedicated and efficient workers during this time. The first time I helped out was when our neighbor, Dorothy Tyer, was the County Clerk. Sometimes the facilities were not that great. But I believe that at least an outhouse was required. Air conditioning was usually not an option. In the winter the heating was not always at a comfortable level. But election after election citizens would answer the request to serve as judges. In the earlier days, the pay for the day was very small. Today, that has been remedied. In fact the judges are even paid to attend the training.

Today there are no voting places without adequate rest room facilities. Sometimes the heat or coolness needs to be amplified, but usually the conditions are pleasant.

I enjoyed many elections working for Wava Halcomb when she was County Clerk. She sometimes called on me to fill in far from our own voting place. I remember one dark November morning when I was driving around Compton Junction trying to find the voting place. A resident on his way to work flagged me down as I recrossed Highway 71 for the second time. He told me I had not gone far enough down the road south of the intersection. It was too dark to see him clearly, but I sure have not forgotten the gratitude I felt for his help.

Now that Tammi Beach is the County Clerk I have continued working in most elections. In addition to the Compton Junction one, I have served in Sheldon, Deerfield in the Fire House and lately in the church, the Nevada-Vernon County Community Center, the Vernon County Court House ground floor hallway, two generations of the Hayes families' garages, the antique shop on west Highway 54, the National Guard Armory, and the Nazarene Church in Nevada. I regret that I never worked in the old Ellis Community Building, although I did vote there several times.

I am proud that the last four County Clerks: Sterling Tyer, Dorothy Tyer, Wava Halcomb, and Tammi Beach all have been from 'our neck of the woods'. That adds to the satisfaction of spending a day helping carry out one of the greatest privileges we have as citizens.

My mother, like all women, was not allowed to vote until a few years before I was born. My parents would come back to Vernon County to vote in the November election the years that we lived in Washington, D.C. during the winter. At that time residents of Washington were not allowed to vote, but since our family were landowners and residents here they came home to vote. With that heritage, I have been proud to be a part of the process.

All of this is leading up to the sad fact that this year I will have to vote absentee because I will be out of the county on Election Day. I agreed to lead an Elderhostel at the YMCA of the Ozarks near Potosi that week. I will miss being part of the excitement, but my husband, Lester, will fill me in on it. He has shared judging responsibilities with me in recent years also, although we have not often been at the same voting place at the same time.

The worst part of being gone is that there is only one television at this resort. I am sure it will be turned to the election results. But I can't hear our local news. I want to know who has won at home as well as nationally.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus