By Beth Warner
We are five days out from the most crucial election in the history of our nation. We are on the brink of losing our democracy. I have voted consistently for 48 years. Voting is not a popularity or beauty contest, not only about candidates, but also about issues, underlying principles and what we value.
I cast my ballot the first day of in-person absentee voting at what was once Bar Harbor’s high school. Old bulletin boards with staples embedded are there, covered with cheerful pale-yellow paint. I climb heavily varnished worn staircases to the third-floor auditorium to vote. Teenagers once ran up and down these stairs, some headed to the principal in an office town clerks now occupy. Gigantic windows and high ceilings once encouraged daydreaming, soaring thoughts. I love going to vote in this old school.
The first time I voted in 1972, my request for a mail–in absentee ballot was lost. I drove over 350 miles from my college in Maine to my hometown in New Jersey to vote. My father was furious.
“Her right to vote was stolen,” he hollered, as he made a big scene in our modern town hall. His disgust was colossal.
“Voter repression,” he carried on in his loud booming lecture voice from teaching, “is discrimination, against blacks, Latinos and now our young people. My daughter and her friends are against this lousy war in Vietnam.”
I remember my mom and I cringing, but we loved my dad’s indignation. Then we all voted, in weird booths, using metal voting machines with levers. When finished, another lever was pulled. It did two things. It opened the flimsy red, white and blue privacy curtain and registered your votes when you exited the booth. Everything clunked metallically.
Those were hard times. Friends died in Vietnam. Others returned maimed or with PTSD. Many were addicts or victims of Agent Orange.
Voting matters. Not voting is like sitting on a couch turning muscles into blubber. Not exercising our right to vote risks atrophy and the possible loss of this privilege. In recent months, I have had to sit on the couch. I’ve watched many PBS shows about wildlife conservation. There is no planet B; we borrow earth from generations to come. We need to preserve and protect what’s left.
I saw a sign unlike others on a roadside. It has red, white and blue stripes, one word on each stripe: Decency – Honesty – Science.
These are values; good ones I was taught by my parents. I relied on values when voting. Good things often come in threes. This week I saw a double rainbow in the midst of the chaos moving into my winter rental. Then, at Goodwill, I found a working 1965 Singer sewing machine for eight bucks to replace one stolen from me, a Singer mom gave me the Christmas after I first voted. I hope the third will be the outcome of this election eventually unifying our nation.
Beth Warner resides in Bar Harbor