Editor’s note: We asked readers to share their voting memories. Here are some of the responses.
A new tradition
I used to go to the polling place in Pittsburgh with my parents, and they let me push the buttons in the giant voting machine behind a curtain. It was a big deal for the family to vote. I’ve voted in person since 1980.
Today, I walk to the ballot drop box in my neighborhood and send a picture in text to my parents and all my kids of me voting.
Daniel Joy, Redmond
Better late than never
I have been a resident of the American Virgin Islands since I was 8 years old. I have never been able to vote in a national election, although I am an American citizen born in New York.
Since recently retiring to the San Juan Islands, 2020 will be the first time in 83 years I can vote for a president, senator and congressman. I am so honored to be able to do so and look forward to casting my ballot.
Anthony J. Ayer, Orcas Island
Recreating community feel
On Nov. 5, 1968, I was thrilled to vote for the first time. A lifelong Democrat, I proudly cast my vote for Hubert Humphrey for president of the United States. Although Sen. Humphrey and other of my candidates lost, I have always believed that my vote counts.
For 15 years, I served as a Democratic precinct committee officer. It was a joy to get to know my neighbors, as I provided information and recommendations. Most importantly, I urged them to vote, whatever their choices.
Each Election Day, I loved going to the polling place. It seemed an almost sacred gathering ground to exercise a cherished right. Since neighbors knew me, they often greeted me by name. Some years, I worked at the polls, treasuring the opportunity to hand out ballots.
I was not totally pleased by mail-in ballots. Although more convenient, they meant less community involvement
Friends and I soon found that a suitable alternative is to gather at a dining room table with our ballots. We discuss candidates and issues. With group input, we decide how to vote. Then we each mark and submit our ballots.
Be sure to vote by Tuesday. Your vote counts!
Judy Young, Seattle
Getting to register at 18
In 1971, on the first day it was legal for 18-year-olds to do so, I went to Kirkland City Hall just as it opened to register to vote. As I entered, I met former Lake Washington High School classmates Candy Wester and Joan McBride (later Kirkland city council member, mayor and state representative) coming out. They proudly told me they had just registered themselves.
The following Wednesday, the Eastside Journal ran a story about the new law and named me as the first 18-year-old to have registered in Kirkland. The next time I ran into Joan and Candy I told them I’d somehow get the story straightened out.
And now, 48 years later, I finally have. Thanks for the opportunity.
Glenn Evans, Seattle
A very special polling place
I wonder how many readers remember the gear-and-lever voting machines? I was 9 years old in the 1956 elections, and there was something unique about my memories of that year.
We were living in our new house in West Seattle, next to what is now Me-Kwa-Mooks Park. The big excitement was that everyone in our neighborhood would be coming to our house to vote! My parents considered it an honor and a civic duty. The night before the election, a truck arrived, and three or four very big machines — where everyone would step inside, pull a privacy curtain and cast their vote — were rolled down a ramp and into our basement rec room.
I wasn’t allowed to be in the election area on Election Day, but I watched out our picture windows at the steady traffic of voters. That evening, the truck returned and picked up the machines to take them someplace official to count up all those important votes that had been cast.
That 9-year-old never had any doubt that those votes would be honestly and efficiently counted to determine our next president.
Gayle Fulton, Hansville
All elections are important
During the time I grew up, voters needed to be at least 21 years old. A Constitutional amendment in 1971 changed this during the turbulent times of the Vietnam War (when many men were drafted into the military and died in Southeast Asia but were too young to vote).
The 1972 presidential election would be the first to include 18-year-old voters — and I turned 18 that year. Although my high school was in a small, rural town in Eastern Washington, my 31 other classmates and I were well-aware of the turmoil in our country, listening to Walter Cronkite on black-and-white televisions and reading Time magazine in our contemporary world problems class. Richard Nixon was up for reelection.
As the time approached and I got ready to attend Washington State University as a journalism student, my dad, who taught sciences at Waterville High School, said, “You’d better vote.” But voting for the candidate to lead our country during the next four years was not the main reason he had insisted I fulfill this responsibility. It was the school levy. He didn’t tell me how I should mark my absentee ballot, but I knew — and did.
Kathi Rivers Shannon, Cashmere
Early activism, lifelong voting
I was around 10-years-old in Chicago during the Mayor Richard J. Daley regime. I was stopped and interrogated by undercover police on my way to school for removing campaign signs that were too close to polling places.
This was a city ruled by a man and his “machine,” who is quoted as saying, “The policeman isn’t there to create disorder; he’s there to preserve disorder.”
I haven’t missed an election since.
Emilie Fogle, East Wenatchee
Making the most of a vote deemed irrelevant
It was the 1992 election. George H.W. Bush versus Bill Clinton. I had to work late that day and was on my way to the polls to vote. It was about 7 p.m.
The radio announced that Clinton had been declared the winner. The West Coast polls hadn’t even closed. My vote had been deemed irrelevant.
So when I got to the voting booth, I wrote in Bruce Springsteen. So much for our voting laws.
Rusty Williams, Shoreline
A sacred lesson in a creaky grange
I remember going to the Black Lake Grange in Olympia with my parents to vote. I can remember standing in line with my parents and the woody, dusty smell and the old, creaky wood floors.
I would go into the booth with my mom, and she always told me exactly what she was doing and how important it was. I cast my first vote for president in that same grange, and felt so proud to contribute.
Mara Fiksdal, Renton
Walking to voting booths with neighbors
I have lived in the Central District since 1992. One of the things I really enjoyed about voting was walking to the voting booths at Washington Middle School and catching up with neighbors and their families, hearing about events and seeing the volunteers who were also residents, and who shared neighborhood happenings and news when you checked in.
That really made voting seem like a community activity and something to look forward to.
Diana Robbins, Seattle
A very long line — and my guy lost
My first voting experience was in 1964. A friend and I (then 23 years old), after a great deal of trouble, found a bus that would take us to our polling place up on Queen Anne Hill.
I don’t remember what time we arrived but do remember we waited in a very long line for a very long time for our turns to vote, and I voted for Barry Goldwater. Enough said.
Elin Nicholas, Shoreline
A first ballot for JFK
I cast my first ballot as a newly eligible voter for John Kennedy after seeing him as candidate speak at the University of Illinois when I was a student. This act of civic responsibility made me feel grown-up and proud. Through the following decades, only one primary was allowed to slip past me.
Regarding mail-in ballots: I regret not having the ritual of going to the neighborhood elementary school to greet the familiar elderly poll workers.
Christine Ziemnik, Seattle