Election Day 2015

Nov 3, 2015 | 2 comments

thToday is Election Day but, somehow, it doesn’t have the same cachet as it did in the years before the mail-in ballot. Now, except for being a day away from finding out the results (maybe), it’s a day like any other day. I miss going to the polls.

My favorite all-time Oysterville Election Day story is this:

Dear Daughter: This has been election day and some way it has been strenuous. Thus began a letter written by my grandmother, Helen Richardson Espy, on Tuesday, November 3, 1914. She was writing to her oldest child, Medora, who was away at school. The letter continued:

Oysterville's Polling Place, 1908-2008

Oysterville’s Polling Place, 1908-2008

Papa, Mr. Stoner and Mr. Goulter have charge of the polls. Mrs. Stoner took the men up their noon meal and I sent dinner tonight. Our stove has been smoking to beat its record, and I had an awful time getting anything cooked. To top it off, your three year old brother went off with little Albert Andrews today and had an undress parade right down Fourth Street. I was so provoked. They were not together fifteen minutes. This happened while I was off voting. Willard has been threatened with dire results if he went ever since their last “undress parade” so I punished him this time and think he is duly impressed. It just goes to show that women belong at home and not at election polls.

Medora’s “three-year-old brother” was my venerated Uncle Willard Espy, author of Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village. And, I might also note that in the next election it was my grandmother who “had charge of the polls” – her first and only paying job. Presumably, by then, Willard had outgrown his penchant for walking through town without benefit of clothing.

I suspect my grandmother would have enjoyed the convenience of voting by mail. But I don’t know what she’d think about the question regarding the secrecy of the mail-in ballot. And, I very much doubt that she’d buy the arguments that more people are likely to vote by mail or that the process is justified because it costs less to manage a mail-in vote. Or maybe I’m confusing my own reactions with what hers might have been… Wouldn’t be the first time.


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    Perhaps I ought not to be surprised that your grandmother thought that women belonged at home, not at the polls. I miss going to the polls. When I was in elementary school my mother volunteered at the polls which were in our multipurpose room. At recesses (we had multiple) I would go in to see her. I was very young and thought my mother very important to be working at the polls. We had primaries and so it happened twice during election cycles.

  2. Cyndy Hayward

    Sydney, you descend from the most disarming correspondents, and you carry on the tradition with comparable charm. The turn of phrase that resonated with me was Grandmother Espy saying, “I was so provoked.” It is such an accurate phrase; it doesn’t just express how she feels (in our impoverished vernacular, “I was pissed off”), but it also charges the source of the annoyance. Albert and Willard were provocative. I find my recent irritations nagging but, by gosh, I have been provoked!


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