About Voting
By Penny Wiegert
I was fortunate to grow up in a family that was always enthused about voting and always encouraged myself and others to exercise the great privilege. 
Part of my childhood memories was of my parents and grandparents educating themselves on the issues and where each candidate stood in regard to those issues. Of course those were the days before Google and social media. They all had to rely on candidate surveys printed in local newspapers, listening to debates and pouring over campaign literature. 
Each summer we would attend the county fair and come home with a bag of election pamphlets, bumper stickers, balloons and pencils. My parents would read it all. Many times they went out to attend speeches by the candidates. And believe it or not, one candidate for governor even visited my grandparents’ home on a campaign stop and went on to stay in touch for many years. 
I can remember my mom and dad discussing the election issues at the dinner table and sharing their thoughts with one another. Sometimes they disagreed but they always qualified why they thought differently from one another. 
I worked at a local diner in my hometown during my high school years. And during election time there was always much discussion about the candidates as the patrons slurped their coffee and dunked their donuts. One thing that stands out from those days is the way those folks handled their disagreements about politics. Even when the talk got loud it never ended in hatred. Most times it would be in a teasing remark and a laugh or one person declaring, “Well, if that’s the way you feel, I think it’s your turn to buy breakfast!” 
That seems to be in sharp contrast to what I see and hear on social media today. Civil discourse seems to have given way to name-calling and permanent alienation between those that disagree. 
And when it came down to the actual elections, my parents always coordinated their time to get to the polls. I don’t remember them ever asking each other for whom their vote was cast and I don’t remember them ever asking me specifically but I do remember always, always being asked “did you vote?” 
All these examples made me look forward to the time when I could cast my first vote. 
In this year when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote I particularly think of my mom and how she loved being involved in political fundraisers and serving as a precinct committee person. My mom’s example taught me that voting was not just a right but an important privilege and above all it was a tremendous responsibility and an expression of gratitude for being part of a great nation. I truly miss hearing her passion for the issues, the candidates and for taking part.
So I encourage you all to take a few little lessons from my memory bank. First, educate yourself on all the candidates running for office. Educate yourself on the other ballot issues and referendums. 
Second, listen to the opposition. Don’t listen to respond but listen to learn. Discern what your points of disagreement are and do so with respect.
Use your faith and form your conscience. Imagine the future not just for yourself but for others. What could and should the world look like in four years? And always encourage others to cast their vote and exercise the great privilege.
And above all pray. 
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops prayer for elections is a great way to start. 
You can find it at https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/prayer-before-an-election.
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