|By Bob Weaver Nov. 2018|
In the 1950s in Calhoun County, politics were divided not only by party but by local political machines who fought divisive battles, driven by families that would do most anything to keep their political control.
Held hostage was government jobs, the old State Road, county teachers and school employees, all who were expected to toe the line, campaign and buy votes.
My dad, Gifford Weaver, a longtime State Road employee, was often given money and half-pints of whiskey to use their influence throughout election day. My mother's brothers were expected to do likewise.
My dad would slump into depression over his vote buying duties, often being ask to support candidates not of his choosing. A couple of times he bucked them, and lost his job.
I remember well in the 1950s after being fired for such transgressions, he took to the bed in deep depression.
Our local pastor Rev. Gayle McHenry came to the house and prayed with him and his sister Gladys Weaver Stump came to Hur from Grantsville to sit around the clock with him.
A longtime Democrat, a few of his Republican friends got him rehired and he went back to his laborious routine.
In 2018 we worry about high tech fixing of America's elections.
Now, over 65 years later, I will fess up to my recruitment to help fix the election outcome in the Village of Hur.
Polling was done in the back room of the McCoy Store. The owner, Harley McCoy, was well aware of my proclivity for electronics, and said he needed a signal device hooked up from the poll workers desk to his office in the store, so he could get a signal about how people voted.
I assume the poll worker would enter the booth to "assist" the person to vote, and if they voted the party line, they would signal McCoy's office and he would signal the outside vote buyer to pay off.
I was about 15 when I rigged a wired system from the polling room to the office, a button under a table, when pushed would flash a battery driven light hidden in an old radio.
At age 15 I was unaware that such activity was illegal, and shenanigans at election time was so normal, I guess I never gave it a second thought.
Thankfully, the legislature ended the hostage of jobs by placing state workers under civil service. Republican Gov. Arch Moore fired all the employed Democrats, and later went to prison for filching money.
In Calhoun, political bosses then lost control because they had very few jobs to broker, and by the 1970s vote buying mostly ended and as far as I know, election returns have been legitimate since, although some candidates have continued to claim the vote was fixed when they lost. As a county commissioner of 18 years, I was unaware of such a problem.
Now with high tech voting, there appears to be endless ways that outside entities can invade voting systems, and should be a great concern for all Americans.