Special Report from Concord

Note: apologies to readers who were expecting a different commentary. I’m tabling it to Friday.

The scene from polling locations around Concord on Feb. 11. Photo: Tony Schinella | Patch

Yesterday, I received a rundown from our citizen reporter, Stephen Ambra, on the ground in Concord, New Hampshire.

In past elections, Ambra has described “the gauntlet” that he and other voters face in front of the polling station, where acolytes for candidates holding signs politely try to convince you why you should vote for their choice.

“I voted early, and based on what I saw I can tell you that ‘the gauntlet,’ usually extensive, was minimal, with several Liz Warren signs, a couple of Deval Patrick signs and then one or two for other candidates. No signs for any Republicans, that I could see. Factors could be the time of day, the snowy and damp weather, and that political signs on municipal property have to be attended by someone. Signs cannot just be left or they get removed. The forecast is for more sign holders later in the day.

“There were several reporters from The Boston Globe looking for comments and interviews and it appeared that a couple of voters were on the record talking to the Globe. I overheard one person talking about the Bloomberg surprise in Dixville Notch. The polling area inside the building was fully staffed. I saw someone at the ‘same day’ registration table. While the polls were not open all that long, there were less than a dozen or so voters. Everything was quite orderly and friendly. Poll workers are friends and neighbors. Name, ID, and ballot was the process, verified on the lists.

“ ‘So far, turnout was light but steady,’ one poll worker said. ‘But things will change later in the day.’ Other than that I chatted personally – not about the primary – with some folks.

“One observation I’d add is the positive and up-beat attitude people had today in exercising the franchise. Lots of smiles as people were performing their civic duty.”

Earlier, Ambra sent me a letter to The Concord Monitor editor by resident Wayne Fuller entitled, “Romney and Moral Courage,” that may be indicative of the mood in Concord.

“A theological professor of mine once said that moral courage is the ability to say ‘yes’ in the world of ‘no,’ and ‘no’ in the world of ‘yes.’

“Growing up in the Lutheran Church I was inspired by the seminal story of the courage of Martin Luther, who when told to recant after he had stood up against the corrupt practices of the Roman Church refused and said that “to go against conscience is neither wise nor safe.” Since then I’ve been inspired by similar stories of moral courage.

“I think of Moses, Sir Thomas More, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Oskar Schindler, Mahatma Gandhi and many others. We remember and honor all of these people today because their acts of courage keep hope and goodness alive in an often dark and corrupt world. Similarly I was struck the other day by Mitt Romney’s vote in the Senate. Like so many of these other heroes, there was nothing in his background that indicated that he had this kind of moral courage in him. He looked and acted like a typical unremarkable politician.

“Then, in a rare moment, he seemed struck by conscience. Knowing that the president had indeed corrupted the Constitution, disobeyed the law and abused his power, he took a stand and voted ‘guilty’ against all political pressure from his party not to do so. The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides once said, ‘To do the right because it’s right, therein lies the blessing.’ On this day, Romney was truly blessed.”

Let’s try to listen more, talk less, and recognize that we are all part of the same American family, and just like any family, there are bound to be differences, but they shouldn’t prevent us from treating each other with the same respect we would like in return.

As of 10:00 PM (PST) Tuesday night: Sanders received 26.6 percent of the vote in Concord, followed by Amy Kolbuchar at 22.3, and Pete Buttigieg at 21.9 percent. Statewide, Sanders took the popular vote with 25.9 percent; Buttigieg, 24. 4 percent; and Klobuchar at 19.8 percent.

Total delegate count of the three has Buttigieg with 22; Sanders close behind with 21 and Kolbuchar, 7. Candidates need 1,991 delegates to secure their nomination on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention.

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