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97-year-old never misses an election

Cora Boyer drops her ballot into the voting tabulation machine Tuesday in Straight River Township. She's been voting since 1936. (Submitted photo)

The first time Cora Boyer voted she was asked to decide the thorny political issue of prohibition - she thinks.

That was 1936.

Tuesday the 97-year-old performed her civic duty again, voting in the Straight River Town Hall. The township building was erected on land she and her late husband donated.

Cora has voted in every single election during that 72-year span.

Prohibition was so long ago, she wants to be historically correct, but doesn't remember if that issue was truly one she confronted on her first trip to the polls, or a later one.

For the record, she opposed it.

"I figured there was a lot of bootlegging going on and I just thought it was a good way for the government to control it but I don't know if it went that way," she recalled Thursday.

"I've been voting for presidents since Franklin Delano Roosevelt," she said.

In her tenure as a registered voter, elections have changed. "Definitely, the way we vote," she said. "I've never had to vote where you filled in (an oval) instead of a cross."

She mistakenly marked her ballot incorrectly Tuesday and the voting machine rejected it.

"I understand I wasn't the first one to do that, make a mistake, and the machine didn't want 'em," she said. "But I corrected it.

I still voted for who I wanted. "

Cora grew up in a racially segregated era; she voted for Barack Obama. "I wanted to vote for him from the very first time I heard him speak," she said. "I liked his ideas. There's some wonderful people and we can't go by color," she said.

Cora and her late husband were dairy farmers for 30 years. She has only one regret in her life, interrupted by the Great Depression.

"I wanted to go into the medical world but the Depression hit me," she said. "We just couldn't. I would have loved to have been a nurse."

Instead she raised five children. "Sure they all vote," she said in answer to a question. "My gosh, yes."

To refer to Cora as a spunky grandmother would diminish her liveliness.

Straight River Township clerk Janice Falk recalls giving Cora a lift to church last year. A fellow parishioner told Cora how sorry she was that Cora was no longer driving herself around.

"You'd be sorrier if I was out there driving," Falk recalls Cora telling the woman.

Cora's parents emigrated from Norway, but insisted the family assimilate into American culture. She was bi-lingual as a child, but speaks little Norwegian now, she said.

Voting was another American tradition Cora's parents instilled in her. She was happy to see the heavy voter turnout in her township hall.

"From what I could see it was wonderful," she said of the number of voters. "I support any time people turn out. It's a privilege to vote."

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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