As I was standing in line at the Lawrence County Clerk’s office today waiting to pay taxes on a new vehicle I purchased last month, I had no idea what was about to happen. An older lady, I’d say in her late seventies to early eighties walked in with a very young lady I had pegged for about fifteen. The older lady introduced her as her granddaughter and that she had just turned eighteen and was there with her so she could register her to vote. As I was being attended to by another assistant clerk, I could not help but overhear the process. The assistant clerk asked the young lady all the personal information such as birthday, social, and address, and then she came to the question: How do you want to register? The young lady, clearly confused, said, “What do you mean?” The worker replied, “Republican or Democrat.” The eighteen year old looked at her grandmother and asked how she should register and the grandma said it was totally her choice and she did not want to tell her one way or another. The girl then said, “Well, I guess I’ll register as Independent.” The granny stopped her right away and said, “You don’t wanna do that, you’re just throwin your vote away if you do that. You can’t even vote if there’s not somebody running.” The office worker confirmed this was the case during the primary election in May, but not the case in the general election to be held in November. The girl then said, “Well, I guess register me as a Democrat.” No quicker than the words left her mouth, granny spoke up and said, “You don’t wanna be one of those, their fer baby killin and letting them queers marry each other!” I was astonished. I had to stop and ask myself, “Did she really just say that?” The worker giggled and the granddaughter, clearly embarrassed, didn’t know how to respond. In a very uncomfortable situation, I spoke up and said, “Look, you’re eighteen years old, go home and educate yourself on the issues and find out where you stand and then come back by yourself. You’re eighteen, you don’t need anyone with you and you can register without anyone influencing your decision.” The office worker agreed and advised her she had until sometime in October to register and be able to vote. Granny was clearly upset and said, “I’m not tryin to tell her what to do.” I just smiled and shrugged her off and the room got about as comfortable as a stomach pump for me. Nobody said anything directly to me, but it was clear they thought I should have kept my mouth shut. The girl and her granny left without completing the registration process.

After it was all over and I was on my way to work, I wondered what I would have done if the girl had chosen Republican after she was swayed from registering as an Independent and granny had said, “You don’t wanna be one of those, they think our President is a Muslim and that you can cure homosexuality.” While I definitely would have been more amused, I like to think I would have still spoken up and advised her of the same solution.

Unfortunately, this is one of the real problems with our region, younger people are too lazy to do their own research and make their own choices. In this area, more people do as their parents and grandparents do when it comes to politics, just because that’s the way it has always been. I believe it is better for someone to just stay home and not vote if they’re just voting the way someone in their family wants them to and not because they truly “believe” in their vote being cast for the right candidate. Although I may disagree with someone’s stance on a relevant issue, I still respect their opinion as long as it based on their own education about the issue and not hearsay or because that’s what mommy, daddy, granny or grandpa believe. Get out from under the influence Eastern Kentucky and start making your own choices.