Because I have a strange fascination with politics, I can usually decide who to vote for long before election day. So, I vote early. And, it appears that many fellow Americans are doing so also.
What about voting often? I don’t vote often; it’s illegal. I don’t think many of my fellow early voters do either. (Although when I received an absentee ballot from my former state California, I wondered if it was an invitation.)
While many people, myself included, thought the “Vote early and vote often” had modern origins, it may in fact have it’s roots in the late 19th century. It is associated with the Tammany Hall political machine, which paid “repeaters” five dollars and free liquor to vote in the place of dead people.
Chicago’s Richard J. Daley, Sr. (mayor 1955 to 1976), William Hale Thompson (Chicago’s mayor 1915-1923 and 1931-1935), and Al Capone are also credited with using the phrase. These three men are associated with manipulating the democratic process in the Windy City.
Today the mantra is repeated not just as a tongue-in-check reference to various ways to commit voter fraud, it is also becoming a way of describing the American election process in general. Already reports of irregularities in the early voting process give the feel that voter fraud is rampant this year. I account that to the 24-hour news cycle that repeats the same information hourly, rather than wide-spread deviance.
Is the voting process any more corrupt now as it was in the 1860 when the Tammany Hall express was at work? I like to think not.
I have faith in the American people. I believe individuals who take the time to vote, don’t have rigging an election in mind but the good intentions of performing a civic responsibility. Yes, there are criminals involved, as there are in any endeavor. But it isn’t as wide-spread as the media makes it sound.
Don’t let the very few who will use any means to dissuade you from voting have their way. Don’t get caught up in thinking that your one vote doesn’t matter. If one vote didn’t matter, would the corrupt elements work so hard at trying to stop your one vote?
Vote early. Vote by mail. Vote on Election Day. Whatever you do, vote. Just don’t do it more than once.