I was a precocious child. I learned to read and write at age two. I always thought that what the big kids did I could do.
I remember a visit in Georgia to Mom's friend. Within the city limits in a sylvan neighborhood was a small stream. All the neighborhood children loved to play "fishing" in the water. On the larger children the water was about calf-deep. I was so little the water would have been about waist-deep.
Mom had reached her limit of admonishing me to stay away from the larger kids because I was so tiny and if I fell in the water, I'd probably drown. She promised me the bottom of her slipper on my bottom if I returned to the stream. I was determined not to get caught.
With the larger kids in school, I went "fishing". There were no fish, just tadpoles. I was determined to get one. I stopped cold when I spotted two large grey boxes with hinges and lock sets like I'd seen on my Grandfather's corn barn.
There were no locks. The boxes were dry so that told me they were placed there just before I arrived. No morning dew was on the boxes and the "fishing" stream was tree lined and no dampness from the night except on the ground.
I opened the box and could read the word "Ballot". There were hundreds of slips in the boxes and all had "X"s in various spots.
I got scared and grabbed a handful of the papers and ran to our host's home to show Mom what I had found. This was the reddest I'd ever seen Mom's face. She marched me back to the stream and to show her where I got the papers. I did.
She made me replace the paper ballots.
Quickly we returned to the house. I did not get the slipper on my bottom.
Mother explained to me that what I had found was uncounted ballots from the "Colored" area and the Whites that ran for office would never have "Colored" votes counted for or against them.
She also explained to me that what I found could get us killed if the active Klu Klux Klan members learned we knew what happened to the ballot boxes and ballots.
That day, about aged three or four, I learned to keep my mouth shut when Mom said so.
In years past I have worked the polls on Election Days. The pay is only a stipend for nearly fourteen hours of hard work.
I know how mistakes could be made and corrected immediately with the voter still present and watching when we used the old big clunker voting machines with the curtains.
After the polls closed, with witnesses the votes were called off and two checked the calling of the numbers and two would check for the entry into the adding machine before the tally was called into Voting Central. Today we voters have no more paper ballots but computers. I don't trust them. We've come full circle to vote stealing.
Patricia Barbee © 2008
Causes Patricia Barbee Supports
Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.
Any effort to aid the elderly, children and enslaved women.