First Time Voter at 72

By: Vanessa Nguyen Email
By: Vanessa Nguyen Email

Most of us take voting for granted.

A Marianna senior citizen has decided he wants to exercise his right to vote, for the first time in his life.

72-year-old Raymond Dickens cast his absentee ballot today, Oct. 25, with the help of the Marianna Health and Rehabilitation Center.

October 25, 2010 marked a special day for Mr. Dickens as it was the first time he had ever voted.

“Yeah, very first time,” Dickens says.

With the help of the Supervisor of Elections Office, Dickens was finally able to cast his absentee ballot for the November election.

Although he appeared calm, staff members at the Marianna Health and Rehabilitation Center say he couldn’t hold back his excitement.

"He knew they were coming last week to do the early voting and he could not wait this morning,” said MH&R Administrator Melinda Gay.
It was a momentous occasion for the center.

"Several of the staff members had tears in their eyes," Gay says.

Gay said Dickens first approached her about voting during the August Primary, but it wasn’t an easy task to get him registered.

"He was not registered and so we found out that he had never been registered to vote even when he lived in Alabama," said Millie Bowling, Activities Director at MH&R. "And we had to go through the new registration from state-to-state and then we had to do an absentee ballot request."

Dickens didn’t have any proof of identification, including his social security number.

“I had it in my head,” Dickens says.

The rehabilitation center brought Mr. Dickens here to the Social Security office so he could get his proper identification. And after a couple weeks of waiting, he was on his way to vote.

"It was worth it! We got to see him vote!" Bowling says.

Dickens is now using his newfound patriotism to encourage other employees and residents to do the same.


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