JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While turning 108-years-old on Saturday, a Jacksonville woman wanted to celebrate her birthday by casting her ballot.
It’s been on Ruth Graham Ray’s mind all week.
“I just hope I can hold up and be an encouragement to somebody else,” Ray said.
And when Saturday came, Ray’s godson, Michael Blaylock, said, “OK, mom, well, I said, ‘Why don’t you just wait until your birthday,’ because she’s been haggling me about getting it. But I said, ‘You haven’t even finished it,’ so I said, ‘Well, you finish it and we’ll make sure we get it there.’”
It brought Ray joy to see friends, family and longtime neighbors driving by, sending her well wishes and smiles.
“That’s wonderful,” Ray said.
But her 108th year wasn’t the only thing she was concerned with.
“She said that, 'I know it’s my birthday and I know I’m 108, but I have to vote,” Blaylock said.
So Blaylock made it happen. Pen in hand, Ray did what she’s done for 22 presidential elections.
“She often talks about having lived through over 20 presidents,” Blaylock said. “All the struggles and all the things that she witnessed as a young child, as a young woman, discrimination, separation, all of those things, and she said she can live to vote today at 108, she said she had to do it.”
Blaylock said she’s very adamant about voting every time she can.
“It lets them know that they are willing to sacrifice and carry on and keep things going," Ray said.
Now, she’s taking it one day at a time, but remembering where she’s come from and sticking to her values.
A retired police officer took her ballot and dropped it off at TIAA Bank Field. Ray said if you have the opportunity to vote, she said you should take advantage of it.