South Carolina resident Donella Wilson has voted in every national and local election since 1948.
By Sheryl Estrada
Election Day has great meaning for Donella Wilson, a 107-year-old Black woman born to parents who were slaves in Calhoun County, South Carolina. On Tuesday Wilson will vote in a presidential election for the 13th time, using a new ID and voter registration card.
She is one of Richland County’s oldest voters, having cast her ballot in every national and local election since 1948. It was the first year African Americans were eligible to vote in a Democratic primary in the county after aresident challenged what had been an all-white primary,according to The State newspaper.
“I never thought that I wouldlive to see a day like this, I’m over 100 years old,” Wilson told WIS TV 10.
Wilson said she is also voting this year to honor those who came before her:
“We couldn’t spell ‘vote.’ We didn’t know what the word meant other than we had an opportunity to say something and cast a vote, praying as we go along that the vote could count to help us as a Negro race.”
Wilson said she is happy to have lived long enough “to see that we could be voting, and the voting be counted.”
“Thankful and proud” to have witnessed President Barack Obama become the first Black president of the United States, Wilson is hoping history will be made again. She is voting for Hillary Clinton.
“Our first female president,” Wilson said. “I think it’s an honor, a precious gift from God.”
“Just in February we went together and cast her vote for Hillary Clinton to be the nominee and now [we’re] voting for her to be the next president,” Democratic strategist and longtime family friend Antuan Seawright told WCIV ABC 4 News.
“This is someone who has been through Jim Crow, been through marches, been through sit-ins just to be able to have the right to vote.
“To see this just makes me even more motivated and tells me how important it is to empower future generations, because these are the shoulders that we stand on.”
In this year’s presidential race, South Carolina has nine electoral votes.
“The Palmetto State is notable for its large proportion of Christian evangelical voters on the Republican side and African American voters on the Democratic side,” according to ABC News.
In neighboring North Carolina, Grace Bell Hardison, a 100-year-old Black woman and resident of Belhaven who has been on the voting rolls for 30 years, almost lost her right to vote in the presidential election.
Beginning in 2015, residents running for office in Belhaven mailed fliers to registered voters and then challenged the registrations of voters connected to any fliers that came back undelivered.
Hardison was one of those challenged by Shane Hubers, a Belhaven Republican. She was informed that if she did not appear before the county Board of Elections meeting or return a notarized form, she would be removed from the voting rolls.
“My mail comes to the post office,” Hardison said in an interview. “I don’t have no mail come to the house. Ever since I’ve been here, my mail has been coming to the post office.”
After public outcry, she has been cleared to vote.