The Vote

Here in my WA hometown, I received a voters guide two weeks ago re local ballot measures and then cast my mail ballot last week. Today I received a voters guide for the March presidential primary and will receive a ballot a couple weeks ahead.

WA is a clean-politics state where voting is entirely by mail. Even so, allegations of fraud triggered a recount a decade ago. We still have a sour taste from 2020 allegations in several states. Media report both Dems and GOP are undertaking policing of procedures in several key states. Can we trust them? Back in the day it was understood that Solid South and northern-machine constituencies would report predictable outcomes.

I cast my first vote, at age 6, as I entered the polling booth with my millworker father and pulled a lever for FDR and a straight Democratic ticket. I have since voted frequently in WA, NYC, MASS, DC, MD and CA. I did so illegally, in 1960, while living in Boston. I voted there for JFK and Democrats but also voted absentee at my previous residence in Seattle. I cast a vote for U.S. Rep Don Magnuson (not Sen. Warren Magnuson). The outcome was so close that a recount was ordered. I expected feds to knock on my door, questioning my ballot. But they never did and Magnuson was declared the winner.

Many states now vote wholly by mail. Others allow ballot collectors to circulate door-to-door in neighborhoods. Others allow third parties to complete ballots for others. Some places allow early voting weeks ahead of election day. In some places truckloads of ballots are alleged to have been dumped or disappeared, Allegations of irregularities at polling places.

I must say that I wholly trust only the old-fashioned way. Voters go to neighborhood polling places in person. Monitors from each party check their registrations. They count and report the precinct vote. Absentee ballots are given to those who prove inability to vote in person.

Beyond voting I have been active in party caucuses and conventions, primary and general elections, and earlier steps in the electoral process. I have been surprised a couple times, most notably when I saw my own name on the ballot, running unopposed for local Dem precinct chair. (I had forgotten that I agreed to serve).

We’ve gone through a tough period in our politics. Polarized and partisan. Got to make sure our votes are properly cast and counted. Remembering Reagan’s “Trust but verify” slogan.