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When it comes to why I vote, it’s personal

During the primary election in early August, Stephanie and I took our two youngest with us to the polls.

As we checked in, showed ID, signed here, signed there and received our voting card, we divided up the boys, I taking Fin, Stephanie taking Clayton.

In the act of voting, I would lean over to Fin and say, “push that one. Now, that one. And … that one.”

It didn’t take long, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the trouble the poll workers went to in order to make sure each of the boys left with “Future Voter” stickers.

In all of those five minutes, I vividly remembered doing something very similar with my parents, as they took me to vote.

In the small town hall offices in Silverhill, Ala., where everyone knew everyone, and would repeatedly ask the most southern of questions, “how’s your momma and them,” stood what at the time seemed like huge, curtain-clad machines.

I watched as person after person went into the machine, threw a lever and disappeared behind the curtain. Moments later, they would appear from behind the curtain and leave. Then the next person would step up, disappear, spend a view moments in there, and then quickly reappear.

To a 6 or 7 year old at the time, you can imagine what must have gone through my mind with each sight and sound.

Then, it was our turn. With my dad, we entered into the machine and threw the lever. The sound is something you don’t forget, nor do you forget the amount of buttons and levers you were faced with.

With each click of a lever, some even thrown by me with dad’s permission, “we” voted in this race and then the next. “We” cast a vote in each proposition and amendment decision and then it was over.

With another toss of the big lever, the curtain opened and we stepped out having completed “our” civic duty.

With each election, whether it was a primary or general election, special election or runoff, my parents found time to vote. It never really took very long to do, and my sister and I got plenty of good practice in voting.

To my parents believed learning that taking those few minutes to cast a vote and have a say in an election was important. To them, it never mattered who I eventually decided to vote for when I grew up, just that I voted.

There were times when our politics lined up, and times when it didn’t.

To this day, I appreciate their commitment to voting and sharing with us the importance of doing so.

That is one of the reasons why I made it important to take at least two of our children to the polls in August.

Voting is among the most fundamental of building blocks of our country. We have a say in the process and far too often, people willingly give up that privilege.

People are quick to find reasons why not to vote, or claim their vote does not count.

I think there are a few candidates still feeling the sting of losses in the primaries and runoffs who would vehemently disagree.

When it comes to our community — our society as a whole — we must turn the tide of voter apathy. We must find ways that excite voters and encourage them to participate.

We can no longer accept 20-to-30 percent of voters taking part in any given election. We must and can do better.

I will admit I miss the old voting machines, if nothing for the sights and sounds that are so vivid in my memory. The new machines are faster, easier to use and less imposing, but there’s just something missing from the experience.

That something missing? Voters.

Tim Reeves is editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at tim.reeves@vicksburgpost.com.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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