Ruth Vincenti remembers her first time going to the polls as a very special day.
She was 21 years old, as the voting age had not yet been changed to 18. It was also her oldest son’s birthday.
“I was so happy I could vote for the first time,” she said.
Since then, she has only missed voting in two primary elections.
Vincenti, along with over 50 other Wyoming County residents, was recently inducted into the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of fame for her years of dedication to voting.
To be eligible, one had to consistently vote in November elections for 50 years.
In the Wyoming County courthouse last Tuesday (March 5), the Wyoming County Commissioners and Director of Elections Florence Kellett recognized these people with certificates for their dedication to the civic duty of voting.
“It’s just the nicest thing to have,” Vincenti said. “It did make me feel special to think I didn’t miss any [elections].”
Vincenti gets her dedication to voting from her father, who she said “knew the Constitution inside and out” and was very patriotic. She enjoyed learning about history and legislation in school, as well as from her father, who was always able to answer all of her questions.
These lessons carried into adulthood for Vincenti and influenced her decision to run for Tunkhannock Borough Council, where she has been able to see the positive effects of voting firsthand.
“I just enjoy being involved with making decisions that are important to the people here in the borough,” she said.
When Vincenti first started voting, she said there was always a line at the polls no matter what time of the day. Nowadays, that’s not as common because fewer people are exercising their right to vote.
“They’re just not interested. There’s so much apathy and then they complain about what’s going on,” she said.
Not voting is problematic because it means people aren’t involved in decisions that directly affect them, she said.
“Otherwise they are legislating and we don’t know what they’re legislating and we lose more and more of our rights by not being active and informed and paying attention to who is running and for what,” Vincenti said.
Eugene Adams, another Voter Hall of Fame inductee, first voted in 1964 after serving in the Navy. While he doesn’t remember much else about his first time voting, he remembers knowing the importance of utilizing his constitutional right from a young age.
“I didn’t have any thoughts. I just did it,” he said. “It’s my duty to go and vote.”
His parents both taught him to vote for the people he thought were right for the positions no matter what they were running for, whether it was at the local, state or national level.
Over his long voting history, he’s seen the process change from paper ballots to machines and held on to the belief that it’s important to get the right people into office if you want to see positive change.
“I think it’s one of the important things to do. I think everybody should vote,” Adams said. “It’s real important now with the way this country is being run by a bunch of idiots in Washington.”
The Wyoming County residents inducted into the Voter Hall of Fame are as follows: Eugene R. Adams, Mehoopany; Ralph E. Anderson, Tunkhannock; Earle Ayers, Tunkhannock; Nancy Bennett, Monroe Township; Shirley Bennett, Tunkhannock; Nellie Benninger, Meshoppen; Dorothy Case, Noxen; Frank M. Coliskey, Tunkhannock; James E. Davis, Tunkhannock; Martha F. Davis, Tunkhannock; Walter Derhammer Sr., Monroe Township; William J. Dodge, Dalton; Russell L. Dymond, Dallas; Anna Jean Ellesworth, Meshoppen; Robert W. Ferguson, Tunkhannock; Bruce A. Gelnett, Tunkhannock; Rita Graziano, Factoryville; Richard K. Hadsall, Monroe Township; Clarence Henning II, Mehoopany; Edward C. Hopkins, Falls; Kenneth Jayne, Laceyville; Marjorie R. Kinney, Tunkhannock; Janet M. Kristunas, Tunkhannock; Alta Kubick, Tunkhannock; Carolyn B. Layaou, Tunkhannock; Ronald G. Learn, Tunkhannock; Audrey Lyons, Noxen; John Lyons, Noxen; Agnes Mary Massacesi, Tunkhannock; Sara P. McGovern, Noxen; Frank L. Miner, Forkston Township; Charles J. Patton, Monroe Township; Lawrence H. Patton, Tunkhannock; Shirley A. Patton, Monroe Township; Sheryl B. Phillips, Tunkhannock; Robert J. Place, Mehoopany; Joyce A. Race, Falls; Walter R. Reese, Tunkhannock; Bessie Robinson, Mehoopany; Albert T. Robinson, Laceyville; Carl D. Salsman, Laceyville; Judy A. Schoonover, Tunkhannock; Jo Anne R. Shaffer, Tunkhannock; Donald L. Sherwood, Tunkhannock; Jean Miller Sick, Tunkhannock; Doris M. Stang, Meshoppen; Barbara L. Stauffer, Factoryville; Katharine L. Stevens, Tunkhannock; Mary Therese Story, Tunkhannock; Jennie Stuble, Factoryville; Ferne Tiffany, Laceyville; Alice Vanderburg, Factoryville; Ruth A. Vincenti, Tunkhannock; Margaret P. Weiss, Monroe Township; James W. Welch Sr., Tunkhannock; Ann Marie Willis, Falls; Lois J. Wilson, Meshoppen; Paul R. Wilson, Meshoppen; Lance Wintermute, Forkston Township; and Joanne L. Witter, Tunkhannock.