From the Polls: Voting for “Nixon”
With the 2016 election only weeks away, the JWA staff wanted to share one of our favorite stories submitted to JWA’s ongoing collection of voting stories! In a year when “the women’s vote” is both highly scrutinized and vital to the election outcome, we especially love the following story detailing one determined young mother's inventive method of finding childcare so she could exercise her right to vote.
This story was submitted by Mae T.
It was Election Day, Tuesday, November 8, 1960. I was 23 years old and this would be the first time I was eligible to vote in a presidential election.
The child of immigrants, I was proud to be an American, happy and excited.
We were living in Minneapolis, and the local radio station kept urging us all to go to the polls as early as possible, describing the inevitable long lines there would be at the end of the work day.
That was the plan ... the problem however was the fact that while my husband had gone to vote on the way to his class at the University, I was stuck in our apartment with our two young sons.
David was two and a half and Baby Jeff was only three weeks old.
What to do, what to do?
The announcements on the radio gave telephone numbers to call if you had a problem locating your polling place or needed transportation. I knew where to go and could easily get there, but not with the two little ones. Without a neighbor or friend nearby to watch the kids, I would have to take them with me.
Frustrated, I tried calling the local Democratic office and after many busy signals and then much waiting, I was told that they had no way to help me. I then called the local Republican office and was told that Mrs. Larson would be over within half an hour to “babysit” so I could vote.
True to their word, a very sweet and kindly surrogate grandmother arrived twenty minutes later and was extremely happy to help keep “those Irish Catholics” out of the White House and gain another vote for the Republican candidate, Richard Nixon. She stayed with the napping David, while I put tiny Jeffrey in the baby carriage and walked to the polls some fifteen blocks away.
Baby Jeff slept through the whole experience and never saw me voting for JFK.
I must admit that I felt a tiny bit of guilt for lying in order to vote, but also a bit cynically triumphant. After eight years of Eisenhower, I was justified. Democrats can be weasels, too!
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How to cite this page
Book, Bella. "From the Polls: Voting for “Nixon” ." 20 October 2016. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on June 26, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog/from-polls-voting-for-nixon>.