Early in every election year, St. Barnabas staff draws up a list of all residents and patients who want to vote and sends it to the Hamilton County Election Commission, where each name is double-checked against social security numbers and voter registration records. If any need to register, there’s still plenty of time to do so. This year, St. Barnabas residents voted Oct. 16.
"It’s a solemn, important event,” said Quality of Life Director Carrie Ezell. “Both the Commission and our residents take it very seriously.”
According to Hamilton County Election Commission representative Shannon DeFriese, two teams of two people visit 40 area facilities. Each team is comprised of one Democrat and one Republican. Once at the facility, a voting center is set up for residents to cast their ballot. If a resident is bedridden and unable to come, the portable touch-screen machine is brought to the resident. No one who wants to participate in the democratic process is left out.
"The residents we meet are excited and very appreciative to be able to vote,” said Ms. DeFriese, who has been helping nursing home residents vote during the past three years. “Everyone is very pleasant and happy we’re there.”
Residents voiced their views on both their opportunity and responsibility to exercise their rights as citizens.
"I try to vote,” said Mary Evans. “I think it’s a good thing for me to do.”
“I hope my vote will make a difference,” said Marion Morris, who said it’s her first time to vote.
“I couldn’t wait to vote,” said William Goldthreat, president of the St. Barnabas resident council. Mr. Goldthreat encouraged many of his fellow residents to vote. As a result, more residents signed up to vote in 2012 than in any other year in recent memory.