LEBANON COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — She’s not a morning person; he eats breakfast by 5 a.m. She’s Catholic, he’s Lutheran — they go to two different Annville churches at the same time Sunday mornings.
But if this all sounds like a remake of Paula Abdul’s 1988 hit Opposites Attract, well, no. Margaret and Bob Fidler, married for 63 years, are a lot more alike than they are different. And in no realm of life is that more true than their voting habits.
“We voted together from the time we were married,” Margaret Fidler said.
And she means that literally. Always together, and in every election, easily earning them induction into the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame — yes, that exists. “Easily,” because you “only” need 50 years of consistent voting to be eligible for that, a feat the Fidlers surpassed long ago.
What’s not easy is the research required for election administrators — like Sean Drasher, Lebanon County’s director of elections — to certify voting perfection. Some voters have lived in other counties or states. Sometimes Drasher figures out who should have the records, but then they don’t, because someone ill-advisedly stored the records in a basement, where one decade or another, sooner or later, something always seems to have gone wrong.
“They’ve apparently learned their lesson, because I don’t see anybody doing that anymore,” Drasher said. “But when we go to some counties, it’s not unusual: ‘Oh, that was the flood of ’73’ or ‘that was the flood of ’58.'”
So getting the information is difficult.
“But we do,” Drasher said. “We always end up figuring it out.”
Margaret Fidler said she learned the importance of voting in a civics class at Lebanon Catholic High School.
“If you don’t vote and things go wrong and your freedom is taken away from you, you have nobody to blame but yourself,” she said.
It’s a lesson the Fidlers’ children and grandchildren have inherited: They took all three of their children to register to vote within a day of their 18th birthdays and all five of their grandchildren within a week of their 18th birthdays, and when one of their sons married a Filipino woman, she registered the day after she became a U.S. citizen.
Of all those countless elections in which they’ve voted together, the Fidlers have voted on election day in all but one. The exception? The election that coincided with their 45th anniversary. Bob surprised Margaret with a trip to Rome. They went to the Vatican. Even got a glimpse of Pope John Paul II.
But before they went, they cast absentee ballots — together, of course — at the Lebanon County Courthouse.
“We’re like two peas in a pod,” Margaret Fidler said. “We’re always together.”
And this coming Tuesday morning, there’s no question where they’ll be: their polling place, of course. But not bright and early. She’ll sleep in; Bob will wake up and make her a hot breakfast, as he does five days a week, before they head — together, once again — to vote.