Dodging pens thrown by little old ladies

Published 12:41 pm Thursday, October 27, 2022

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Voting in our area is as stress-free as a box of chocolates. For that, we should feel fortunate.


That hasn’t been the case in Arizona and perhaps a few other places. Out west, things are a little different in many ways, as we all know. That’s why we probably weren’t too surprised to learn that a few people have proclaimed themselves “poll watchers” and assumed a self-appointed mission that apparently requires military preparations. We all know their true motive is intimidation.

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These pseudo-protectors of the vote arrived armed, wearing military-grade tactical gear and, of course, their obligatory balaclava face masks. With those masks, it’s hard to distinguish them from the big-city looters or those smash-and-grab thieves. Don’t tell them, but those masks are unisex. Gasp.


If you stop to think about it, it’s more like a silly kids’ game they are playing. Acting out some moves they practiced in the basement in front of a full-length mirror. Talking about their “strategy” for “protecting” the vote.


Here, we just vote. We don’t go strapped to the polling place.


But we are not without our voting passions, as some polling volunteers hoping to sway a few voters will attest. After talking to two people about their experiences, it’s clear there is only an occasional bad actor.


One local volunteer recalled a frail, elderly woman who threw her free voting ink pen out the car window at her as she drove away.


“Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I originally considered she was simply littering and throwing it out, but combined with the look on her face and that she was looking directly at me, well, I could only assume she was making a statement,” the volunteer said. “I was smiling and waving and thanking her for voting, as I did for everyone.”


But that experience isn’t typical here.


“My experience is that most people respond to a smile and kind address,” she said. 


Although that was not the case when the volunteer asked a sitting member of the county board of commissioners, who shall remain nameless, if he would like a handout sheet, also known as a “pocket ballot.”


“He gave me a look and a loud talking-to,” she said. Meeting his rudeness and bellicosity with kindness, she thanked him for his service to the community. (I’ll let you decide which one had the better upbringing.)


She is quick to point out that the vast majority of people she met at the polling place, regardless of their political persuasion, were friendly, kind and courteous.


I must admit that I have always disliked walking past a crowd of sign wavers and pamphleteers when heading into the voting booths. Who, I wonder, arrives at a polling place having no idea for whom they will vote?


But vote we must, and we will. Just keep an eye peeled for little old ladies throwing their ballpoint pens out the window.


Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at