Early voters

Joselyn Whitticker walks with Martina Casey to the Grant County Courthouse to participate in early voting Wednesday afternoon. Whitticker said she did not want Casey to have to wait in crowded lines on Tuesday due to COVID-19.

Many community members are taking advantage of early voting this week, including 99-year-old Martina Casey.

“I’ve always voted,” said Casey, a 1939 graduate of Marion High School.

Joselyn Whitticker, president of the Marion chapter of the NAACP, escorted Casey to the courthouse Wednesday morning to exercise her right to vote.

“It’s a privilege,” Whitticker said. “There was a time when blacks couldn’t vote. There were so many hoops that we had to jump through to vote. To say, ‘No, I’m not going to vote’ is not an option for me.”

Whitticker remembered her parents taking her to the polls with them when she was young to teach her about the importance of voting.

“I had a grandmother who was very much a women’s suffragette who believed in voting and what the importance was,” Whitticker said. “She said, ‘You have no right to complain when you don’t vote.’”

Early voting and absentee voting are important options for voters, especially during the current pandemic, Whitticker said.

“Early voting is a nice option for people who have to work on Election Day and have a hard time getting away to vote, so busy people, homebound people,” said Grant County Clerk of Courts Pamela Harris. “Of course, COVID has had everyone concerned.”

Voters are encouraged to bring their own masks, but masks, gloves and hand sanitizer will be provided at the courthouse, Harris said.

Markers on the floors of the courthouse are there to remind voters to maintain social distancing, and voting stations are sanitized after each use.

“Yes, it does seem that COVID has certainly changed the way we need to get things done, but they are still getting them done,” Harris said.

Early voting is available at the Grant County Courthouse on Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Voters must bring their ID.

As of Tuesday night, 3,500 absentee votes had been turned in, up from the 2,000 absentee votes from the last municipal election, Harris said.

Of a population of approximately 70,000, Harris said Grant County has 44,189 registered voters.

“Everyone needs to remember that their vote does count. Some races are won by one or two votes,” Harris said. “Most of all, be patient and kind. Let’s show the rest of the world how it’s done – with class.”

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