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Politics 2

March 18, 2013

This is an excerpt from my second book, “Memory Harvest of a Sharecropper’s Son,” which is now available in Amazon Kindle format and in printed format. This story is about some of my experiences about voting.

I was transferred to a Grand Bahama Island missile tracking station in 1958 and then back into Florida in 1960. When I registered to vote in Florida, I was registered as a Democrat because the registrar said I had to be registered as a Democrat, since there were not any Republicans running for office in that area. Florida was very much a one-party state at that time. In 1960, I voted for John F. Kennedy for President.

By 1962, we had an excellent Republican candidate for the House of Representatives for our area and a few other local offices.  The Republican County chairman appointed me as the acting Republican Precinct chairman for my precinct. I campaigned hard for the Republican candidates and helped get many people to the polls to vote.

One neighbor and I had discussed the candidates many times. He was still supporting the Democrat candidate for the House by Election Day. Late in the day, he came across the street and said, “My car is in the shop and we cannot get to the polls to vote. Since we’re Democrats, you would not consider giving us a ride to the polls, would you?”

I replied, “I sure will. Get your wife and let’s go.” I have always been a firm believer that everyone should vote for their candidates, regardless of party affiliation. I am not a Republican. I am an independent. I have campaigned for and voted for candidates from both major parties and sometimes a third party.

I drove them to the polls and did not say one word about the candidates I was supporting. I dropped them at the door and parked about half a block away to wait for them. When they came out, we headed back home. About half-way home, my neighbor told me they had voted for the Republican candidate for the House. He said he was almost ready to support him anyway and because I had given them a ride without pressuring them to vote my way, they decided to vote for him.

Our Republican candidates won their election and Florida has become a two-party state. During a county Republican Party meeting later, I told the story about taking my neighbor to the polls and gaining their vote. The county chairman jumped all over me and told everyone to never give anyone a ride to the polls unless they were sure they had the vote locked up.

Shortly after that, the county chairman said he did not want me as permanent Precinct chairman because I was not a good Republican. I laughed and told him that I had never and would probably never vote a straight ticket. I am still very much an independent and vote for the person I consider the best candidate, regardless of party.

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