Today is the Republican primary runoff, and a few, a sad few, registered Republicans are heading to the polls to cast their ballots for a candidate to represent their party in the November Senate election. Now I won’t talk politics, because as a child raised in a deeply political family that dates back generations, I recognize that political discussions outside the tight familial circle is likely to get you into a heap of unwanted trouble, unless you are running for public office and, in that case, you asked for it! This is especially true in my small town, where most people are related in some fashion or another to one or all of the candidates running for election, whether Republican or Democrat. Silence is best, especially when you cast your ballot.
I learned this lesson when I was a young girl. Before the Alzheimer’s disease ravaged her mind and locked her inside of herself, my paternal grandmother, Nanny, took me with her to vote. My hand in hers, she walked me to the voting booth, pulled the curtain closed, and turned her attention to the ballot. When she was finished, I asked her who she voted for. She told me it was a secret, her secret, and it was supposed to be so, otherwise they wouldn’t have provided the little booth with the curtain closure.
A secret. For a young child, I was mesmerized. A secret was a BIG deal, full of excitement and promise. Like a surprise, blabbing it would only diminish it.
A few months ago, many of the old metal ballot boxes used in those past elections, rusted and worn from years of use and years of storage, were discarded, trashed. Unassuming, but important, those tin receptacles had held the thousands, tens of thousands, of secret ballots cast throughout the years that had affected the course of history, not only for our county and state, but for the nation as well. First ballots of the formerly disenfranchised descendants of slaves, ballots for Lurleen, Alabama’s first female governor, and lesser so, but important to me, those cast for both my maternal grandfather and even my own dear daddy.
I couldn’t bear to have them languish any further. So barring any better idea, I decided to use them in my Fall display. It is after all Election time, and it never hurts to have a tangible reminder of the importance of the vote and of keeping one’s mouth shut afterwards.