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I Have a Semi-Political Story to Tell April 7, 2016

Posted by Peter Varhol in Uncategorized.

Shortly before I turned 18 years old, it turned out that 18-year olds were granted the right to vote. Up until then, you could be drafted into the Army at 18 (and I narrowly missed the draft), but couldn’t vote until you were 21.  Some powers raised an eminently reasonable objection to that, and 18 year olds could vote.  So I was about 18 at this time, and registered to vote.

I was a full time student in college, registered to vote absentee, and did so, legally.

But my vote, my first vote, didn’t count. It was tossed out.  And here is why.  My father, with whom I share a given name, voted in person, in our old rural fire station.  He gave his name, “Peter Varhol.”  The poll checker looked him up in the roles, and asked “Peter D.”?  My father took that to mean he was a registered Democrat (which he was), and replied in all honesty, “Yes.”

I am Peter D., not my father. So I (we) voted twice, and because mine was the one that came in via mail (yes, the US Postal Service), it lost out.

Today, I have to show a photo ID in my state to vote. I understand that it is this way in most states today.  Now, throughout my life, I was told that showing ID discouraged those who couldn’t vote in the past.  It made sense.  To anyone who has read recent history, that makes a lot of sense.

But I remain sad that I lost my first vote, because of the requirement to not show ID.

I don’t know what the right answer is here. I would like to see everyone who can vote do so.  At the same time, I wish my vote, now 40 years ago, had not been tossed aside because of an error that could have been easily rectified.

I am not political, and will support any candidate and official who doesn’t break anything.  We tend to make a lot out of our voting and election process. In the grand scheme of things, we will make mistakes.  From a personal standpoint, it remains a disappointment to me.  I don’t think there is any easy fix to something like this.  So let’s figure out how we can let every who is eligible to vote do so.



1. Karen Cegelski - August 1, 2016

I am the sister of the writer of this article and my views of elections are very different. I had to be 21 to be eligible to vote and have voted in every election local, state, and federal since that age. Taking that responsibility very serious. Even though our parents were registered democrat, I have always been registered independent. Our parents did not have an impact on my political views but being a manager of 100 teamster drivers as an adult shaped my views. These drivers could not be held to productivity standards, but in order to make my quarterly bonuses I was held to productivity standards that I should have been able to hold them to but no their contract said they can’t be held to these standards. In the 24 years I worked there I made bonus 5 times. I try to study each candidate so that I make an informed decision. But sadly after the election of 2016, I may never exercise this responsibility again. I am saddened by the media’s lack of valuable information that will prohibit people from making informed decisions.

Peter Varhol - August 2, 2016

Karen, of course I will approve your comment. I will add that I am unhappy that starting with Bill Clinton, it became acceptable that a candidate not serve in the military. That concerns me because there have been a dearth of candidates who have not been touched by the need to serve our country. I hope that future major candidates (female or male) will have an understanding of what it means to put their lives on the line for the freedoms that we take for granted. I realize that that sounds connived, but I think there is truly a difference in perspective when you put your life on the line for what you believe.

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