Seniors take politics and the right to vote seriously

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Senior lifestyles

By Julie Graham

Politicians speak to them. Communities rely on them. Seniors not only come out in droves to vote, but they are busy making the political season work.
John Aves, Ann Hurley and Joe Ramsey are just a few of the local seniors gearing up for Election Day on Nov. 6, when races for president, Congress and the state Legislature will be determined.

Hurley works the polls

“If we want to keep our country strong, it’s our responsibility to get out and vote,” said Lancaster resident Hurley, who has been a poll worker for 40 years.

A love of politics began at a young age for Hurley, whose father was active in the Democratic Party where they lived in Montgomery County, N.C.

“It has always been stressed to me that it’s your right and privilege, and everyone should vote,” said Hurley, 77, who is retired from public health. “If you don’t vote, don’t complain.”

She faithfully works each election at the Douglas precinct at Douglas Presbyterian Church off Great Falls Highway. She loves seeing old friends there.

“It is almost like a reunion,” Hurley said. “It’s a chance to see people I don’t regularly see, and I love the camaraderie of the poll workers. It’s a good feeling that you are doing something for your country.”

Aves leads Democratic club

In northern Lancaster County, John Aves works to bring good speakers and factual information to the members of the Sun City Carolina Lakes Democratic Club, which meets monthly. He has been president of the more than 100–member group for nearly a year.

Aves, 70, has always been interested in politics, but was inspired four years ago to go door–to–door and call voters on behalf of President Barack Obama, who was running against Republican John McCain.

“It was my introduction to grassroots politics,” said Aves, originally from western Michigan. “I haven’t been constantly active in politics, but when Obama came along, I got excited. My current interest in politics comes from a feeling that I want to leave this country as good as I found it when I was born.”
Aves loves the history of politics. He talks of being born during the presidential term of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who he calls a “colorful character who got me interested.” He felt like a family member had been killed when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. He worked on a millage campaign for the schools in Grand Rapids, Mich., with Gerald Ford when the 38th U.S. president was a Republican congressman.

Aves believes Republicans and Democrats need to work together to improve our country.
“I hate to turn over a country that is so divided to my children,” he said. “When our leaders can’t get together to pass a bill to get people jobs and take care of our families, it’s the saddest thing I have ever seen.”

Ramsey is a poll manager

Also in Indian Land, Joe Ramsey works as the poll manager of the Pleasant Valley II precinct, where voters cast their ballots at Higher Ground Church.

He has been active in politics his entire life, even before he could vote. Family members, including his father, uncle and aunt, had political jobs in his native state of Tennessee.

Ramsey, 65, has managed the precinct of 3,200 registered voters for a decade. He loves politics, stressing that every vote makes a difference and voters need to read the newspaper and watch the news to stay informed.

“Voting is probably the most important right we have,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to choose.”
Ramsey keeps his political affiliation private, but said the issues most important to him are the national debt, unemployment, Social Security and Medicare. He wishes the state Legislature would approve early voting.

“It would increase voter participation and eliminate people having to stand in line for hours to vote in major elections,” he said. “It has been proposed for the last several years, but has never passed.”
On Election Day, he expects a high turnout – maybe even 60 percent. His day will be long, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., to accommodate the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. voting hours.

“I vote in every election,” Ramsey said. “It’s our only way of choosing.”