The Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame

April 21, 2008 8:40:42 PM PDT
The tens of thousands of young people who have registered to vote for the first time during this election year could learn something from members of the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame. At age 86, Mary Crabtree of Phoenixville leads an active life. She doesn't like to miss her Monday morning bowling outing with friends and she doesn't miss an opportunity to vote.

"The first president I voted for was Franklin Roosevelt," she said.

Pennsylvanians such as Mary bridge generations, from a time of war and depression to one of peace and prosperity. They understand how precious our freedoms really are. Mary says she remembers that first vote was an easy choice.

"My father was a democrat and a farmer, and farmers really needed the help," she explained.

Mary also recalls the look on her mother's face when she set out to vote in the 1920's. The women's suffrage movement was barely a century old.

She won't say who for whom she is voting, but says it's exciting to see Hillary Clinton in the running.

John Chambers of Roslyn is 87. He thinks he missed only one primary in the last 69 years.

"Never missed a general. Got my absentee ballots in the service and mailed them back," he said.

Also for John, whose sister is former Philadelphia City Councilwoman Ann Land, voting is a family trade.

"I get it from my mother and my dad and my grandfather, who was a democratic ward leader back in the 20s. It sort of stayed with me," he said.

John says he's encouraged by the swell in voter registration numbers this year, especially among first time voters. He says he has a couple of ideas to further increase voter participation.

"I always advocated it should be a day off from work, period. A holiday. Other countries do it," he said.

But he says there is too much bickering and negativity in this year's campaigning.

John Chambers is enjoying his golden years. He makes ceramics and has quite a collection, but he still believes he has a responsibility as a citizen first, and has no plans to change his voting patterns.

"I have the old mailman spirit. Rain, sleet, snow," he said.

There are 560 members of the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame. All have made a lifelong commitment to democracy, and they are hopeful that many others will follow in their footsteps.


Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame