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NEWS


Voter voices at the polls


By Staff
Posted on November 4, 2014 | Features,News | Comments Off on Voter voices at the polls

Optimist Photo by Jarred Schuetze

Howard Collier has lived in Abilene 29 years, and has voted in every election since he moved here from Lubbock. But to him, voting is not the most important thing in life.

“Voting comes number two; number one is prayer,” Collier said. “It’s my own personal conviction, but my beliefs are to pray, vote and buy ammunition.”

Collier believes each vote cast is important and can change the political scene in Washington. He expressed his opinion that the leaders of this country have not done what is in the best interest of the people, and as a citizen, he knows it is his duty to try and change that.

“I believe the politicians in Washington have tried to run the Constitution for the almighty dollar,” Collier said. “To me, that’s not right.”

Collier’s political opinions are deeply tied to his personal and religious beliefs, and he sees them serving as a moral compass that helps guide him in making decisions. He uses prayer and his trust in God to lead his voting habits.

Collier encourages the younger generations to get out and vote, to be involved and active and not accept things how they are. His wish is that young people would make their own informed decisions based on the facts instead of blindly following the media.

“Use your conscience, listen to the Lord, read the Bible and lead your family,” Collier said. “Be devoted to Jesus Christ and lead this country.”

by Tommy Evans, Online Managing Editor

***

Tomi Agbesanwa is a second-generation American with a dual citizenship from Nigeria. His rounded glasses with a black frame, champagne-colored shirt and dark olive drab pants fit in harmony.

Tomi, from Houston, has been voting since he was 18. Now at 25, he is pursuing his doctorate degree at the Texas Tech University School of Pharmacy.

Middle school mock elections taught Agbesanwa the importance of voting. His family has also had an influence on him.

“Some of my family members are not able to vote,” Agbesanwa said. “And being able to vote, you should definitely exercise it.”

Agbesanwa’s siblings are not old enough to practice their right to vote, but his family has a history of voting.

“When I was growing up, it was a big deal to vote,” he said.

Agbesanwa remembers as a child when he lived in Nigeria for a few years. In Nigeria, people own the right to elect their leaders, though politics is not as democratic as the United States because candidates commit fraud in elections and ballots get lost.

Now in America, Agbesanwa has the chance to participate in fair elections. He voted for the first time during the Obama election. This year, Agbesanwa voted at one of Abilene’s various voting center, Hillcrest Church of Christ.

“If I can vote, I am going to vote,” Agbesanwa said.

by Keyi Zhou, Student Reporter

***

A red flag flaps in the rain with the letters V-O-T-E tapering down it on the corner of Walnut and N. 5th Street. Unbeknownst to campaigners or journalists like myself, this flag is also the 100-foot marker outside of Abilene City Hall for how far away one must be to legally loiter, or have a conversation with voters.

Three women in their late fifties, wearing turtleneck sweaters and quilted down jackets, sat behind the foldout table in the lobby of City Hall, signing voters in and volunteering hours out of their day to work the polls. They begin to whisper about the presence of people who aren’t there to vote, but are standing in their lobby. One of the women quietly suggests to the other to send an email.

The one with mousy brown hair clicks across the tiled floor to ask us to move to the other end of the lobby.

“You’re going to need to move over behind those couches for now,” she said with a glare from her icy blue eyes. “We’re waiting to hear from the precinct but we actually think you might need to move further.”

OK, no problem we tell her.

I’m interviewing a woman outside, just a few feet from the doors, protected from the rain by the building’s awning. Suzie Foster, 66, is bundled up in a striped scarf and her gray hair is slipped under a knit hat. She had just been asked to move outside with her clipboard collecting signatures.

“I’m sorry, the 100-foot flag is over there,” said the pale blond woman with the quilted navy jacket. She points to the street corner.

“Oh, okay. Is this going to be at all the locations?” Suzie asked, her eyes still bright behind her fogged-up glasses.

“I think so, I wouldn’t just make this up,” the blond retorts.

“Oh no, no, no,” Suzie apologizes. “Bravo for you and what you’re doing. Voting is important.”

The woman stands outside; arms crossed, watching Suzie and me until we are a satisfying distance.

We are now huddling close together on the sidewalk in front of City Hall, consciously in line with the red flag. Ink in my notebook is bleeding as rain continues to shower above us. She is telling me about her plans to watch the results tonight when we see the brown-haired woman clicking after us again, the blond a trailing a few steps behind.

“I’m sorry ma’am. The hundred-foot is where those signs are,” she said, pointing to the flag once again. “See where the sign is on the pole—that’s 100 feet,” the second woman chimes in.

Suzie, sounding genuinely surprised, “Oh! Okay, thanks!” She smiles, tucks her scotch-taped “Ben Carson ‘16” yard sign under her arm and invites me to walk with her to her car before she visits her next polling location.

Unfazed, she continues to casually chat about the future of the country and her belief in the constitution. “Tonight I’m going to be praying,” she laughs. “I’ve been praying for weeks.”

By Madeline Orr, Editor in Chief

***

Get out and vote, they say. Exercise your freedom, they tell you.

The election process has come around again, and Abilineans trekked out in the cold, windy, rainy weather to cast their ballots. Among them was Jeff Haseltine dressed in his raincoat and umbrella in hand.

Jeff said his vote may not be popular, but voting does make a difference.

“I’m not likely to see my candidates win, but I think I should vote. These elections will be decided by a very small percentage of Americans and that’s kind of disappointing.”

Jeff works for a math curriculum education program that supports Abilene Independent School District by offering a method of teaching that better suits students.

“We designed an online program that connects them with self-paced independent learning as opposed to teacher learning,” he said. “We know that American students fall way behind in math, and this is one approach that is designed to help them catch up and learn to like math and to learn to like learning math.”

The program is designed to help second through sixth grade students  and provide them the opportunity to learn math in a way that may be more effective.

Not only is Jeff passionate about helping children learn but he is keen of using his right to vote to represent them.

“What I’m trying to do with my work is in support with a lot of kids that are going to lose out on opportunities if they don’t learn math,” he said. “Those are the kind of kids I’m voting for.”

By Rachel Fritz, Copy Editor

avatar Posted by Staff on Nov 4th, 2014 and filed under Features, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.  - This post has been viewed 8654 times.

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