NASHUA, NH—Politically engaged citizen David Haas, 25, described by friends and acquaintances as a "big democracy geek," even votes in primaries.
"I can understand voting in the big elections, like for president or governor, or maybe even senator," longtime friend Gregg Becher said Monday. "But David votes in, like, mayoral and county-supervisor elections. How dorky is that?"
The right to vote, as guaranteed in the Constitution, is among the hallmarks of the American democratic system. But Haas has exercised his franchise rights to an embarrassing extreme, voting in every federal, state, and local election since turning 18.
"Normally, David's a reliable, punctual employee," said Dorothy Raubel, owner of Raubel Garden Center, where Haas has worked for the past seven years. "But then there's that occasional Tuesday morning in April or November when he calls in saying he'll be late to work. It's a strange habit, but we've all grown accustomed to it by now."
Haas prides himself on being an informed voter, making sure to familiarize himself with candidates' positions before casting a vote. A self-described "independent" who tends to favor Democratic candidates, he can summarize the basic position of both major parties on most issues. As a result, Haas has endured the mockery and derision of those around him.
"On Sept. 10, he showed up late to work, and you could just tell he'd been voting," coworker Mike Summers said. "He was holding something in his hand, and we were like, 'Hey, Haasenpfeffer, whatcha got there?' He said it was the League of Women Voters candidate guide. So Rob [Mularkey] says, 'League of Women Voters? Now I know why you vote so much—you want to horn in on that hot women-voter action!' David didn't even smile; he just got all huffy and said the guide was from the morning paper and that copies were available to the public."
Richard Prohaska, Haas' next-door neighbor, can attest to Haas' strange dedication to the American political process. Over the years, Prohaska said he has seen him get into numerous doorstep discussions with campaign workers and canvassing local politicians.
"About two months ago, some alderwoman who was up for reelection was going door-to-door passing out leaflets," Prohaska said. "I took one, thanked her, and closed the door as fast as I could. About 30 minutes later, I'm backing the car out of the garage to wash it, and there's David talking to her on his porch. I go to get the hose, and when I come back, he's actually inviting her into his home. I was half-done waxing when she finally came out. Either they had one hell of a quickie, or David cares deeply about local politics. Knowing him, it was definitely the latter."
Though it's not clear why Haas insists on voting in every election, there is no shortage of speculation.
"My guess is, it's his way of hiding from the real world," said Jennifer Thorsten, Haas' sister. "He's always been interested in politics. He was on the debate team in high school and got a B.A. in poli sci in college. I've tried to get him to skip an election, but he never does. He says that only by exercising our democratic freedoms do we keep our democracy healthy and vital. Whatever, David."