Local Voters Reflect on Past Elections

Election day was busy at Alps Road Elementary.


Many voters in precinct 7B made it to the Alps Road Elementary polling place Tuesday morning despite steady rain and temperatures in the 40s.

The polls opened at 7. Three hours later, 307 of the 2,538 voters on the precinct’s rolls had cast ballots at the school gym. Because 899 residents of 7B had already voted early, this meant that 18 percent of the precinct’s voters were done by 10 a.m.

Many reminisced about Election Days past.

Sallie Duhling, a retired professor who taught at Gainesville State College for 28 years, said the 1952 presidential election was memorable because predictions about the outcome were calculated using a room-sized computer called UNIVAC. Duhling remembers being ten years old and listening to newscaster Walter Cronkite talk about the computer on election night.

 “It was amazing because you used to have to wait until the next day before all the votes got counted and stuff like that,” Duhling said. UNIVAC correctly called the election for General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Kim Waters, a 53-year-old graduate student at the University of Georgia, said her earliest election memories are of her father running for coroner when she was in first or second grade. 

“I remember he would go out campaigning, and I would always tell people ‘Vote for my dad!’” Waters said.

Jonathan House, a 27-year-old investment advisor who has lived in Athens for 3 years, remembered voting in the 2004 presidential election when he was 18.  He said the presidential election, more than the local races, also drew him to the voting booth today.

Meriwether Rhodes, a retired 64-year-old Athens resident, also recalls the first presidential election in which she voted.  She was 21, and the candidates were Richard Nixon and George McGovern.  Rhodes said the election in which she voted for Shirley Chisholm, the first major-party black presidential candidate, sticks out in her mind.

Mario Vasquez’s first election-related memory is painful: he arrived at his polling place only to find that he couldn’t vote.

“I was going to vote on this last [presidential] election, but if you don’t vote for so many cycles they actually put your registration in sleeper mode or something,” said Vasquez, who is 34. He said he went to vote with a friend from Peru who had become a natural citizen.  “He was able to vote, but I wasn’t; that was an eye opener.”

Several voters were making new Election Day memories with their kids this morning.

“Today was the first day I voted with my 18-year old,” said Stacy Brown, a stay-at-home mom who has lived in Athens for 15 years. She said she also sometimes brings her 6th grader to the polls if she votes later in the day.

Aphrodite Douris, a microbiologist who has lived in Athens for 17 years, also brought her two children, ages 9 and 2, with her to Alps Road Elementary.  Her parents never voted, and she had graduated from college before she exercised her own right to do so. “I think it’s good for them to see it,” Douris said.


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