Posted on November 1, 2016
If you think Trump scares you, I would like you to meet Grace Fullerton. Grace is 74 years old and has never participated in our election process. In fact, she has never registered to vote until September 27th, 2016, National Voter Registration Day!
I met Grace through a mutual friend at a Hillary Rally that was held in Harrisburg, PA on July 29th, while volunteering for Planned Parenthood and “Pinking” out the rally, Grace asked me if she could have a Hillary button and sticker! I proudly presented her with both, and her smile lit up the room! Due to her physical disabilities Grace could not attend the rally, but instead sat inside a local business to hear our future president speak.
I again ran into Grace on National Voter Registration Day, her exact words to me were; “Carrie, I registered to vote today just so I can vote for Hillary.” Her words took me aback, so I asked her, “do you mean you updated your voter registration information?” She replied “no, I finally registered to vote, I am 74 years old and I have never voted before, but I am going to now. I want to vote for Hillary!” I then asked, “really, wow congratulations, but why did you choose to register now and why Hillary?” Her direct response, “Trump Scares Me!”
I sat down to interview Grace last week, because her story was one I wanted to hear and share with others. I wanted to know why this election, why this candidate? What inspired her to register for the first time in her life? The first question I asked was why she had never registered to vote before. Her answer was one that I had never heard before, she stated that she had never registered to vote because she was a single woman raising a child with only one income, and the thought of having jury duty scared her financially. She never shared her voice in elections because of financial restraints that might be placed upon her. She supported her family by working in the restaurant industry; therefore, taking a day or more off work would substantially impact her ability to provide for her and her child, because she counted on her “tips”.
Grace grew up in Enola, PA with her mother and father, who were never politically involved, in fact she stated, that politics were never talked about in her home. Grace is the youngest of 8 children and her parents instilled in her and her siblings, the value of a hard day’s work is what supports your family. Grace did not learn about politics until much later in her life, she admitted that she was unaware of how the electoral process worked, and never thought her voice would make a difference.
Although she started to learn about “politics”, she was still not inspired to vote for any candidate, the assumption was that they were all the same. Her mind started to change after President Obama was elected into office.
Under the Obama administration she has seen her life and the lives of others change for the better. President Obama’s devotion to our country, the hope and change he has provided inspired her to pay more attention to the candidates and the different political agendas they presented to the voting public. She told me, President Obama has carried himself in a way she has never witnessed from any President before him, even John F. Kennedy! Although she witnessed and experienced the changes President Obama made during his first term in office, Grace still didn’t feel compelled to register to vote for Obama’s second term. She told me during the interview that she just didn’t think her vote mattered, or that it was needed.
Okay, so why register this election, why Hillary? Her eyes lit up, she smiled from ear to ear when she was directly asked this question again, and she responded “She loves children, she has worked her entire life to help kids. She is a woman, I have seen the first black President and I didn’t help to get him elected, but I want to help her, I have to. She wants to continue where President Obama has left off and I know how much better our lives have gotten under his leadership, she will and can only make it better.” Then her smile turned into a frown when she spoke of Donald Trump. “He scares me, he scares me a lot! I have lots of friends that are minorities and are gay, he wants to take away their rights. He is making this country full of hate and I don’t like it.” She continued to express her concerns with Donald Trump, she is angry he doesn’t pay taxes, she is angry about the way he speaks about women and most importantly she does not think he is fit to be President! “Donald Trump is a liar and he is a con, he will not make America great again, he will make American hate again” She spoke about all the political
and social movements she has witnessed in her life; Roe vs Wade, civil rights, the gay rights and most importantly the women’s rights movement. Grace reflected that she was sorry she did not participate in any of those events, but she just didn’t understand her voice mattered. “I know my voice matters during this election and I know it is up to me to make a difference, that is why I registered to vote this year. I know Hillary Clinton is the only candidate that is capable of continuing to move this country forward, she is the most qualified candidate ever to run for office” Grace said with a smile.
Grace’s story inspired me, she reminded me that we can all make a change, it’s never too late to stand and speak up! She renewed my faith in the American people, and most importantly she reminded me that my vote does matter!
I think sometimes we take for granted the power of our voice and our vote. We show up at the polls and do our civic duty, but do we reflect on the power of the vote we just cast? Do we understand, we the people are the ones that make the change? Grace now believes all of this to be true, so maybe we should as well.
To end this feel good story, I want to share that we here at Planned Parenthood are so proud of Grace for standing up during this election, that we invited her to the rally Hillary held in Harrisburg, PA on October 4th. It was imperative that she get to attend this event for the first President for whom she would cast her vote. She sat out the last time Hillary came to town, we made sure she didn’t sit out this time! Not only did Grace attend the rally (front row, I might add) she shook the hand of our next President Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Just remember if Trump scares you as much as he scares Grace, get out and vote! Make sure your friends get out and vote! Don’t take no for an answer, tell them the story of the 74 year old woman who will be going to the polls for the first time this year!