Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

November 5, 2013

John Cannon:Ah, the joys of not voting: 11/06/13

ASHLAND — Tuesday was election day in many parts of the country, including neighboring Ohio where some of my Buckeye co-workers took the time to go to the polls.

But those of us who live south of the Ohio River were given the day of from voting Tuesday, and for that I personally am glad. It is good to get a break from the constant, mostly negative campaign ads that bombard us in the weeks before every election.

It was not so many years ago that the political campaigns were never-ending here in Kentucky. No sooner had the votes been counted for the November election than candidates were campaigning for the primary election in May.

An amendment to the Kentucky Constitution that voters  approved in 1992 changed all that. The amendment was primarily to allow the governor to serve two consecutive terms, but it also required the governor and lieutenant governor to run as a team and eliminated most of the few duties given to the lieutenant governor. Prior to that, the governor and lieutenant governor could be from different parties and the lieutenant governor assumed the powers of governor whenever the governor was out of the state.

These changes were needed but legislators should have gone one step further by abolishing the office of lieutenant governor. No one else in Frankfort earns more money for doing less.

But I digress. The same amendment that allowed governors to run for re-election also moved the years city, county and some state offices were elected to allow one year out of every four years to be free of elections. This is one such year.

Legislators thought about moving all elections to even years to make every odd-numbered year free of elections. While that sounds appealing, legislators wisely decided to keep the races for governor and the other statewide offices in odd-numbered years to keep from having such a long ballot during the years in which the governor and other state offices are being elected.

I am glad to see that Ashland schools where my grandchildren attend did not close for Tuesday’s non-existent election. Ashland and other school districts throughout the state were slow to realize one out of four years would have no elections and continued to close school because of the elections that weren’t.

Elections have changed a lot over the years. When I first started voting in Kentucky, I voted in a neighbor’s garage. I did not know him, but I trusted that he knew how to host an honest election.

The courts soon ruled that elections had to be held in public buildings. That’s when I started voting in the clubhouse of the local community club.

I have voted at Crabbe School for many years. That’s convenient because I pass Crabbe  on my way to work. However, three other precincts also vote at Crabbe, all of us in the school’s gymacafetorium. That’s why it’s a good idea to call off school on election days.Otherwise, where would the students have lunch?

However, there was an election many years ago on a day when school was in session. Instead of being in the way of voters, I thought the presence of kids was a learning experience. What better way to teach kids the importance of voting than to have them watch people voting?

After all my first experience with democracy was when my mother took me to the polls before I was in school.  Mom always worked at the polls. She had to because she was a Democrat in a county where Democrats were an endangered species. Since a Democrat and a Republican were required by law to be at every polling place, Mom was told that if she did not work, they would not have enough Democrats to fill all the spots. Mom agreed but only if she could bring her preschool son to the polls. They agreed.

The only thing I remember about those days at the polls is that they were exceedingly boring, but in their own way, they taught me the importance of voting. I have voted in every election since I turned 21, which was then the age Ohio residents were allowed to vote.

I really wanted to vote in the 1968 presidential election, but I was too young. However, because 18-year-olds could vote in Kentucky, my girlfriend, who was a year younger than I, could vote. Of course, she voted for the wrong person but I can’t say that’s the reason our romance ended soon afterward. It was already cooling off. How we voted just added water to the dying flames.

She should have waited. I have been moving steadily to the right since then..

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