Voting a pleasure as well as civic duty

I may be 34 years old, but nothing makes me feel more like an adult than voting.

On Tuesday morning, I made my way to Calvary Baptist Church on North Ewing Street in Seymour, where I cast my ballot, choosing whom I want to be my voice when it comes to making decisions about how my hard-earned tax dollars are spent and the future of our city.

According to the vote counter machine, I was the 44th person to fulfill my civic duty in the Jackson 1 East and Redding Seymour districts. That might sound like a low number, but poll workers said it was more than they expected after three hours.

One thing I like about being a regular voter is seeing and talking to some of the same poll workers and other voters. I get the opportunity to converse with people like Hubert Gregory, George Anthony and Tina Pearson, who sit for hours to make sure everyone has the opportunity to vote and that the process goes smoothly.

Some of them have been working at the polls for years. They know voters by name and like to know how we’re doing.

Gregory brought up what I thought was a great idea. He said it was a shame that the city’s public transit system wasn’t running that day. City hall, including all non-emergency departments, are closed on Election Day.

“If they ran the buses just to take people to the polls, it might increase voter turnout,” he said. “Some people don’t have any way of getting here.”

I agree and think that public transportation should be made available free to people wanting to vote.

On my way in to the church, I said ‘hi’ to my friend, Charlie Seybold, who lives just around the block from my parents. Another one of their neighbors is John J. Reinhart, who represents our district on the city council. Reinhart, a Democrat, ran unopposed this year, but I still made sure to check the little box by his name on the ballot.

Although it was a short ticket, only one contested race for me — the at-large seat for city council — it still mattered.

I could only vote for two, but I applaud all four of the candidates who ran — Republicans Darrin Boas and Kendra Zumhingst, Democrat Lloyd Hudson and independent Shawn Malone. I am proud to know all of these community-minded individuals.

It would be nice to see a full ballot, however, for all offices, including mayor, clerk-treasurer and all city council seats.

I think having at least two candidates, if not more, gives voters a choice and presents healthy competition for those running. I’ve always subscribed to the idea of voting for the person, not the party. I think elections would be improved if the Republican and Democrat designations were abolished.

Boas’ wife, Shawna Boas, is a friend of mine and said the first time she voted was in the May primary in 1987. She was a few weeks shy of her 18th birthday but was allowed to vote because she would turn 18 before the general election in the fall.

“I was so excited to finally be allowed to vote,” she said. “I knew it was one of my most important responsibilities as a U.S. citizen.”

She has since voted in every election.

I, myself, was a late bloomer. I didn’t vote when I turned 18, and in fact didn’t start voting until I moved back to Seymour after attending college in Franklin and working for a year at the newspaper in Shelbyville.

Early on, I chose not to vote because I didn’t feel I was educated enough on important issues and the candidates. That changed as I began covering city government and education for my job here at The Tribune more than 10 years ago.

Now, I know each of the candidates personally and what their thoughts are on various topics, from how the city should or should not grow, what infrastructure improvements are needed and attracting more business to Seymour.

Shawna Boas said she does not take voting lightly.

“Men and women have died so I can walk in there and vote my voice,” she said. “And I get very upset with people who do not exercise their right to vote.”

It surprises her, she said, that more people don’t run for local office.

“But it gets more and more difficult to get people to volunteer to do anything these days,” she said.

For me, voting is fun. It’s something I look forward to doing.

I may be a 34-year-old voting adult, but give me an “I voted” sticker and I’m as happy as a kid who gets a treat for doing something good.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.