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Betting on the Winners

It just started to switch over from droplets to an active drizzle to a steady drumbeat of rain when I pulled into the only open spot just across from the abandoned gas station near the Townhall. There were at least eight cars parked at different spots in the ankle deep mud, and it was clear this is an election that has the interest of everyone in town. After all, there was a pretty vital school district issue on the ballot.

It’s also Super Tuesday for us here in Vermont as it is with the rest the nation.

I opened the front door of the only administrative building in our town stepped into the wood paneled meeting room. Two neighbors (everyone in town is a neighbor even if I they live 2 miles away) sat at a table near to the door handing out ballots. I took one for the Democratic primary, one for local school district issues, and the one that always tells me my vote matters, the town ballot.

I have been mulling over my choices for the Democratic primary for the last 24 hours, and as I walked into the white wooden voting booth and drew the green, red and yellow Paisley curtain that I have pulled twice a year every year for the last 20 years, I still wasn’t sure which bubble I would fill-in.

I filled in the school ballot relatively quickly and put the presidential ballot on the bottom of the pile. Then I turned my attention to the ballot that keeps my faith in direct democracy and representative government alive. I — and everyone else in town — has known each person on the ballot for at least a decade.

The names on the town ballot are Democrats or Republicans, but they are also so much more than that. They are the people we run into at the country store. They are the ones who donate hours of their time each year to make sure of the road crew gets paid and road projects are evaluated. They help us figure out when we need a new school bus and how we will fund our share of the school taxes. They are the people we meet at the yellow farmhouse at the edge of town to hitch up flower festooned wagons and horses on the Fourth of July, and they are the people who come together at the end of the summer and the holidays to share potluck dinners and news of who has passed away and who is doing well in school.

I filled out the town ballot and then turned to the presidential primary ticket. I thought for a while and filled in the bubble the person I thought would make the best president. Then I opened the curtain and went to the table at the far end of the meeting room where several neighbors were collecting completed ballots and checking off names of who had voted.

At the table our town constable, a republican, asked how my foot was. He told me my husband had done a great job moderating the town meeting the night before and the school board meeting earlier this morning. Another one of the collectors, a Democrat, chimed in with more compliments for the Big Guy. I spent a few more minutes catching up with them and with our town clerk and treasurer, neither of whose party I know because it really doesn’t matter.

Introducing Thing2 to Voting in Vermont 2008

I know that regardless of the names I chose on that second ballot sheet, “my guy” will win because in that room, even on election day of all days, no one in that room was really a Democrat or Republican. In that room we are all just Vermonters who want the best for our town and who want each other to be well.

I’m going to try to remember that in November when I don’t have a town ballot to take into the voting booth with me to keep my faith in the process and my fellow Vermonters alive.