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Columbia Missourian

Columbia voters explain why they went to the polls

By Anne Christnovich, Kerri Reynolds, Ryan Martin
April 6, 2010 | 3:56 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — During Tuesday's election, voters had various reasons for heading to the polls. Here's what three Columbia residents had to say:

Columbia woman's voting inspired by influential parents

Mary Kenney, 85, said Tuesday that the right to vote is too important to cast aside. That's why she goes to the polls every election day.

"It’s as simple as that,” Kenney said after casting her municipal election ballot at Shepard Boulevard Elementary School.

Kenney has been voting since she was 18. She cited her parents' influence.

"My mother was one of those that worked hard for the vote," Kenney said. "She was part of the 'women should vote' generation back in the early 20th century.”

Kenney said her mother was something of a renegade. She taught herself to drive in the driveway because women of her time weren’t supposed to be independent.

“She wasn’t supposed to be doing things like driving or voting,” Kenney said. “But my father was very 'equal opportunity' also, so I got my vigor for voting from both my parents. I voted today because we vote, because we’re citizens and that’s what we do.”

Hospital technician turns poll worker as parents before her

Paula Barnes usually takes the day after elections off from work. Most people probably would if they woke up at 5 a.m. and got home after 8 p.m.

Barnes, 47, usually works as a hospital technician for the American Red Cross. On election days, however, she puts in 15-hour days as a polling place supervisor. On Tuesday, she was working at the Hanover Boulevard Community Building in the Third Ward.

Barnes, who has lived in Columbia since she was 6 months old, said she started the job by taking over for her father after he died. She said her parents were poll workers for years.

“After that first election I worked, my mom told me I should be the supervisor instead of her,” Barnes said.

Barnes has been working for the Columbia voting locations for six years. She’s even gotten to know a few of the voters.

“I’m a social butterfly. I like to talk to everyone,” Barnes said.

Retired educator says voting important because of crucial bond issue

Virginia Wheeler said she always votes, but Tuesday's election was important because of the $120 million bond issue placed on the ballot by Columbia Public Schools.

Wheeler, 84, retired in 1988 from MU, where she spent 20 years as a counselor educator in the College of Education.

"Being an educator, I feel its important to pass these bonds," she said. "The school bonds issue is very important."

Wheeler also worked in the public school system for 10 years as an elementary teacher and counselor. In the mid-1960s, she helped create the elementary counseling program.

"They've had to cut back on so much that I'm afraid they'll cut back on elementary counseling," Wheeler said. "And waiting until these kids get into high school is too late."