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Voting is not an issue… is it?
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE for Wisconsin State Assembly District 96 Josephine Jaynes bottle feeds a calf on her farm near Readstown. The 18-year-old Jaynes is a favorite with columnist Jane Schmidt, who had to make two trips to her local polling place, in addition to the first trip where she forgot and drove past it. Yes, in the end, Jane did cast her ballot.

WEST FORK KICKAPOO - For someone like me, who stands on her soapbox and shouts, “Get out and vote,” it can be easier said than done.

Torn between voting by mail or in person for the August 11 primary, I was in a tizzy. I love my township of Webster, and voting in person is an opportunity to say hello to good folks. I was impressed with their dedication to safety during the April primary in the earlier days of COVID.

But I knew that voting by mail would be safer. So, on the last day possible, I signed up online for a mail-in ballot, made a copy of my driver’s license to attach to the electronic form, and proudly hit “send.” I was doing the right thing: voting andhelping to keep people safe.

My ballot came quicker than the swallow could rebuild its nest of twigs in my mailbox. Life was good and I still had a few days to drop it in the mail.

But then, life became crazy. Things that should have been done didn’t get done, and I became buried in the rush of working and playing catch-up on household chores and projects. Suddenly, it was too late to mail in my ballot. Tomorrow was voting day.

Not an issue—I could stop in before work and, with my mask firmly on, say hello to the community volunteers as I voted.

I left the house at 6 a.m., but when I drove past the town hall it was closed. Voting wouldn’t begin until 7 a.m., and my class started at 6:30.

Not an issue—after work I could take Highway 82 home, right near the Webster Town Hall, and vote then.

Blue skies, brilliant green foliage, and shocking orange wildflowers kept me humming and snapping pictures the whole way home…past my voting place and into my driveway.

I checked on the ducks down by the hidey-hole and took them a bowl of grain; gave the donkeys their hay and reapplied bug goop around their faces; emptied and refilled Louisa and the goats’ water bowl; tossed in some hay, old veggies and fruit; refilled Louisa’s pink pool; checked the cat's food bowl; took the dogs for their afternoon play-date at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve; and made dinner.

I’d forgotten to vote again!

Knowing that I needed to shower and be at a friend’s house by 7 p.m., that polling places closed at 8, and that it was already after 6, panic set in. My face smeared with grime, head wrapped in a sweaty scarf, rubber boots thick with green muck, I jumped in the car and raced a mile up the road to cast my vote. Pumping some sanitizer onto my hands and securing my mask, I rushed into the building.

There stood my friends and neighbors. After my hands were sprayed again with disinfectant, I moved to the check-in table, worried about getting to my friend's house on time, yet grateful to acknowledge these civic-minded people.

I dumped the contents of my new coin purse onto the table, and the few cards I carry spilled out. Sweat prickled above my eyebrows as I shuffled through the cards: debit, charge, hair appointment reminder, Nelson’s reward program, Ron’s Towing Service… My driver’s license was MIA.

My panic level rose. This was the election I’d been waiting for, my chance to support someone I believed in, someone who was giving me hope for a new and better future: Josefine Jaynes for State Assembly.

As cards and old receipts were falling onto the floor, I mentioned my mail-in ballot. The patient and by now amused volunteers, who all knew me, cried, “Go get it!”

I dashed home and rummaged through my desk drawer. I couldn’t locate my mail-in ballot, but I found my old coin purse that I thought I’d lost ages ago. My driver's license was in it. Perfect!

Flying back into the brick building, waving my license while the volunteers cheered, I signed the register, cast my vote, then mused, “I think this might be my oldlicense.” As I held it out toward one of the volunteers, they all shouted in unison, “Nooo, get out of here, Jane!”

After a fast shower and a quick stop to snap a picture of a huge buck, I wasn’t toolate to my friend’s house. And when Josefine won by a landslide, I was thrilled to know I’d voted for a winner. But I also knew, I needed to prepare better for the next election, the biggest in history, where our lives depend on it.

Off to the DMV I went and replaced my lost driver’s license for a mere $14, then tucked my old license back into my desk drawer. I dutifully watched some of both conventions, attended a safe meet-and-greet with Josefine Jaynes and Brad Pfaff, and am beginning to feel ready for the upcoming November 3election.

With time to spare, I cleaned my car and discovered my lost mail-in ballot tucked under the driver’s seat, where I remembered shoving it for safe keeping. The next day, I clicked on the website to make sure I was still good to go. I read, “Be prepared to upload a copy of your driver’s license”—which I had done already for the primary.

My hand darted over to my copying machine, lifted the cover, and there was my now old driver’s license.

And I told myself, Not an issue—I'm ready to vote.Are you?


(*Jane's old license was legal because it was only recently expired)