Political scholars have long debated whether or not New Hampshire rightfully owns such a high prominence with its position as the first primary in the nation. Some argue the state is not representative of the average American, while others argue the intimate, community nature of the state makes it a great state to test candidates. I am not writing to weigh in on this, as I am not (yet) in any way a political science scholar nor have I been to enough states in this nation to offer a counter-proposal. What I do know, however, is how much the people of this small state value their vote in the midst of the political craziness we call the presidential election.
This epiphany hit me today while canvassing in Goffstown. As I ventured up the icy granite steps of this home, I looked down at my clipboard and noted that this man was a Democrat in his eighties. This can either be a really good, or really bad thing to a canvasser (odds are they will be home) and it always makes me genuinely excited to see that grace my clipboard. When I rang the doorbell the man opened the door and we exchanged the necessary pleasantries. As I began to ask my first question, the man interrupted me and told me that he was eighty-six and that he had never missed a vote. He went on to inform me that once he got there and saw their pictures, he would be know. I thanked him for his time and began to reflect. He had never missed a vote. I could tell in the way he said it that he meant it too.
These people can identify a caller in a few seconds, sniff out a canvasser from a mile away and value their votes as much as some value gold. It is easy to see, as an outsider in the beginning stages of learning about how our crazy political system works, it is really easy to observe too.
As a country at the bottom of the industrialized world in voter participation we should take note of the people of New Hampshire. While in this case their vote seems to have inflated significance, at the end of the day a vote is a vote. Perhaps this simple truth is eluding us as a country or perhaps we as a society occasionally lose sight of just how powerful we are. Either way, go out and vote when you get the chance.
-- Tristan Voegeli is a St. Olaf freshman from Winona, MN, majoring in Political Science. He is in New Hampshire as part of a St. Olaf political science class studying the presidential election.