MY FAMILY HISTORY OF VOTER FRAUD, AND WHAT IT TAUGHT ME
I cast my first vote for President in 1956. I voted for Adlai Stevenson even though I could not read his name on the ballot as I was only four years old.
I cast my next vote for President in 1960 when I was eight. I voted for John F. Kennedy.
In 1964, at the age of 12, I voted for Lyndon Johnson.
Clearly, I was a young Democrat. A very young Democrat.
On each of these election days – in 1956, 1960, and 1964 – I arguably committed voter fraud, as I would not be permitted to cast a legal vote for President until 1972. But in my childhood voting, I had a co-conspirator … my father.
My father took me with him to the polls each Election Day. We voted in the gymnasium of our neighborhood high school a block away from our home. As we made the short walk to the school, Dad would tell me who the candidates were, not just for President but also for Congress or Governor or Mayor in whatever elections would be on the ballot.
And he would also tell me how “we” were going to vote.
When we got to the high school gym, we would be greeted by a poll worker, invariably a neighbor we knew. Dad would sign in as a voter, and then he would be directed to a polling booth. Dad would then take me by the hand and escort me to the big machine voting booth that resembled a large black refrigerator. Dad and I would step inside it, and he would pull a lever that closed a curtain in front of it, assuring that our vote would be secret.
Dad and I would then examine the ballot in front of us. Dad would read aloud the names of the offices and the candidates. And then we would vote, with me actually pulling the levers beside the names of the candidates of our choice, or rather my father’s choice.
“One vote for Mr. Kennedy for President!” my father announced on that November morning in 1960. I responded by pulling the lever by the names of the electors for JFK.
One vote for Mr. Kefauver for Senator,” Dad next announced, and I pulled the lever beside Senator Estes Kefauver’s name.
Down the ballot we would go, with Dad announcing our votes and me casting them.
After exercising our franchise, Dad and I would pull the lever that re-opened the poll booth curtain, exit the booth, and say goodbye to our friends the poll workers.
Dad would then walk me to my school, the elementary school across the street from the high school. I was always given permission to be late for school on Election Day.
My Mother also voted every Election Day, but she did not take me to the polls with her. My Election Day trips were exclusively father-son outings. Had Mom taken me to vote, we would have cast decidedly different ballots than those cast by Dad and me. While my father was a lifelong Democrat, Mom was a lifelong Republican. They in effect cancelled each other’s vote every Election Day.
I hope the statute of limitations has run on my illegal voting during my childhood over 60 years ago. You could say that my father and I engaged in voter fraud.
But in our defense, it wasn’t voter fraud. It was a Civics lesson taught to me by my father.
My father was a Veteran, having served in the Pacific in the Navy during World War II.
He deeply loved his country, and he did not take Democracy for granted. He voted every Election Day, and he took me with him to see what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America.
Next Tuesday morning, November 3rd, I am going to walk to a church fellowship hall in my neighborhood. There I intend to cast my vote for President of the United States, United States Senator, and numerous other offices. This time my vote will be a lawful one.
My father will not be with me to announce the votes that we, or rather I, will be casting. But I will feel his presence with me as I help decide who will lead our country over the next four years.
By my count, it will be the 17th time I have cast a vote for President either lawfully or otherwise.
I will be doing what my father taught me in those Civics classes he conducted on Election Days long ago.