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By federal law since 1792, the U.S. Congress had permitted the states to choose their electors any time in a 34-day period before the first Wednesday of December, which was the day set for the meeting of the Electors of the U.S. president and vice president (the Electoral College), in their own states.

 

An election date in November was useful because the harvest would have been completed (important in an agricultural society) and the winter storms would not yet have begun (a plus in the days before paved roads and snow plows). In this arrangement, the states that voted later could be influenced by a candidate’s victories in the states that voted earlier. This problem became more prevalent by improved communications of the train and telegraph. In close elections, the states that voted last could determine the outcome.

 

A uniform date for choosing presidential Electors was settled by the Congress in 1845. Many theories have been advanced as to why the Congress settled on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. It was a complicated decision, involving changes in the calendar from year to year. In 1845, the U.S. was largely a rural society, so farmers often needed a full day to travel by horse-drawn vehicles to the county seat to vote. Tuesday was established as Election Day because it did not interfere with the Biblical Sabbath or with market day, which was on Wednesday in many towns.

 

Our ancestors took great care to make sure that all people could have an influence on the nation where they lived. This has been going on for 218 years. My great-grandfather, Josef Rumpf, came to America in 1856. This was 64 years after the first election. When they came onto our shores, they may have been some of the immigrants who fell to their knees and kissed the ground.

 

I do know that he came over twice. After living here for awhile, they returned to Germany because his wife couldn’t adapt to the ways of life here. She did not learn our language. After a return to their native land, they realized that the situation was much worse there, and made the immense effort to return to America. Josef made sure this time that his children learned the language and did not speak German outside of their home. My grandfather, my father and then myself have voted in every election for 117 years. This is a tradition that I cherish. We have not always had a winning candidate, but we did not deny our privilege.

 

This is the time to show our children and grandchildren that we care about living, not only in this nation, but also in this state and county. Study the candidates and make a choice. West Virginia and Calhoun County are worth the effort it will take to vote. Don’t just sit there: “If you think one person can’t make a difference, you have never been in bed with a flea!”

 

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

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