108-Year-Old to Vote for First Time

Joanna Jenkins is now registered as an absentee voter and plans to cast her first ballot for President Obama. 

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Joanna Jenkins and family (WSAV)

Joanna Jenkins of South Carolina plans to vote for the first time this year, WSAV reports. Telling her local news outlet, "I feel good," she said she plans to check the box for President Obama.

If a 108-year-old woman who grew up when voting was "a fight, not a right" and doesn't have state-issued ID can figure out how to cast a ballot, does anyone with fewer challenges have an excuse to sit this election out?

"She's just excited. She wants to vote this year,” said cousin Shirley Lee. “We were looking at the elections, and as the debates were going on, she decided -- say, 'I want to vote,' all of a sudden. She just wants to vote. She just decided that she wants to vote. She's excited to vote."

Because she can't read or write and does not have a state-issued ID, Joanna’s family didn't think she'd be eligible to vote. But thanks to help from their family doctor and the Beaufort County Board of Elections, she's now registered as an absentee voter.

But elections officials said her case is extremely unusual.

"It's incredible,” said Scott Marshall, Beaufort County election director. “She grew up in a time when Jim Crow laws were fully in effect, and minority voter suppression was the norm. And to vote was a fight, not a right, at that time. So for her to be voting now is a great example to others that it's never too late to vote, and you should always exercise your right to vote."

Read more at WSAV.

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