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Understanding the 2020 Election through hindsight: Senior citizens weigh in on voting

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Our country as a whole has changed, from having cameras in our pockets to virtual discourse causing real-life impacts. Similarly, voting has changed as well.

BY , Contributing Reporter
AND , Film Editor

“At that time, voting wasn’t on my radar. I couldn’t see what difference it would make.”

Our country as a whole has changed, from having cameras in our pockets to virtual discourse causing real-life impacts. Similarly, voting has changed as well.

Now, many polling places offer electronic voting booths that scan paper ballots, obtain digital ballots and verify signatures on absentee ballots. However with these advances in technology, polling places now must have the space and power to accommodate.

“When I started voting, all I remember was going to a polling place in someone’s house, all the furniture cleared away, two booths,” Jacqueline B. Hilson, 94, a resident of Vantage House, a retirement community in Maryland, said.

Hilson explained how people would be offered $10 to $15 dollars a day for having their homes be polling places. She, nor her mother, ever had to wait in lines or worry about who to vote for.

“My mother was apprehensive about voting because she wasn’t current on politics; my father told her who to vote for: ‘Just tell them you’re a housewife and that you’re Republican,” Hilson said.

Hilson’s family was Republican, however, when she could register, she chose to go as an Independent. Later, Hilson ended up a Democrat.

Although Hilson didn’t truly decipher her political compass until later in life, some have been more ingrained in their beliefs.

One such person is Hilson’s neighbor, Vivian Bailey, 102, who said that she has always been a Democrat.

“My mother was a precinct judge and did a lot of work with the Democratic party,” Bailey said.

Bailey grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she spent most of her life before joining the army corp in the 1950s.

“Everything was segregated, and even though everything was segregated, we still had very good teachers,” Bailey said. “We didn’t talk about voting in school or at home.”

Bailey spoke about how she had heard of there being voting issues in other states, especially southern states. However, she couldn’t recall anyone who had experienced voter suppression first hand.

“I think this is the most important election in my lifetime, and I’m praying that Biden will win,” Bailey said.

For some, being passionate about voting is a skill that is learned over time.

“At that time, voting wasn’t on my radar. I couldn’t see what difference it would make,” Christine Pauls, 59, said. “That’s why it probably took me so long to vote. I know people in my family voted, but I know a lot of them didn’t, so that was probably a factor.”

Pauls, a lifelong resident of Wilmington, who did not vote in her first election until she was in her mid-20s, said she now encourages young people to make sure their voice is heard.

“You don’t matter if you don’t cast your vote, you can’t complain if you don’t cast your vote and you need to understand the people you’re voting for,” Pauls said.

With the election just around the corner, Hilson, Bailey and Pauls have made plans to vote or have already had their vote counted. The polls in Delaware close at 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.

To find your polling place, please visit https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/.

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