Whenever it gets to be election time, I always think of home.
Our Down East town was known as the most Republican town in Maine. We’d have an election back home, and when they’d count up the ballots there’d be 393 Republican and no Democrat ballots.
Then, one election year, someone from way down south – Newport, Rhode Island – retired from the navy and bought a house in our town.
He was the nicest fella you’d ever want to meet, couldn’t do enough for his neighbors or the town. But some folks soon noticed him acting a bit peculiar, and some in town began to suspect he had a dark side.
The first Election Day after his arrival came and everyone went to vote. No one noticed anything too strange. This navy fella even chatted with the poll workers before going home. It wasn’t until that night, after the polls had closed and the town officials went down to the Town Hall to count up the ballots, that they realized just what had happened in their beloved town that day: The votes totaled 393 Republican – and 1 Democrat.
The officials were stunned. Their mouths went dry. You could have knocked any one of them over with a seagull feather. The town’s title- The Most Republican Town in Maine – was shattered.
Well, you didn’t have to hit any of the town officials upside the head with a two-by-four. They knew that this navy fella from the deep south – Newport R.I. – must have been the wayward voter.
It wasn’t long before the newcomer figured he’d done something very wrong, but he couldn’t quite figure out what. While everyone in town was still friendly to him – because he was still the nicest person you’d want to meet –he sensed something was off with how they regarded him. How could he have known that with a flick of a lever in a voting booth, he had robbed the town of its precious title and unexpectedly revealed his dark secret and unfortunate character flaw?
He began to feel anxious and his blood pressure soared. He went to the doctor but it didn’t help. His condition continued to worsen. After several weeks of this, he finally did the only decent thing he could have done under the circumstances – he died.
To show how much they appreciated his fine gesture on their behalf, the townspeople gave him one of the biggest funerals in the town’s history.
By coincidence, the day after the funeral was another Election Day. Everyone went off to vote, and town officials went to the Town Hall after the election to count up the ballots: 392 Republican and still 1 Democrat. The officials were dumbfounded and turned white as ghosts.
Elmer Beal, the second selectman, who was also the town’s undertaker, stumbled toward the door and mumbled to himself: “Good heavens, we buried the wrong man.”