Why we shouldn't celebrate the story of a 94-year-old woman who travelled 300 miles to vote

Moya Lothian McLean
Thursday 22 October 2020 15:30
news

A 94 year-old-woman makes a 660 mile round trip in order to vote.

A stirring story of exercising your democratic right or a damning indictment of voter suppression? Social media users think it’s the latter after the tale of Mildred Madison went viral.

Speaking to CNN, 94-year-old Madison recounted how she had to travel 330 miles in order to vote in person after her absentee ballot didn’t arrive.

Since September 2019, the grandmother – who was the first Black president of the League of Woman Voters in Cleveland – has been staying with her son in Illinois.

But she grew concerned when her ballot didn’t turn up and the voting office insisted it had been sent out.

So her son, Julian, drove her back to her hometown of Detroit in order to vote in person, where Madison wore a black mask with the word ‘Vote’ emblazoned on the front and waited in line in a wheelchair.

Then they made the 330 mile trip back to Zion, Illinois.

Madison said she’s still not seen an absentee ballot turn up but she’s just glad she managed to cast her vote, having not missed an opportunity to have her say in every “city, state, county or national” election for the past 72 years.

But while people praised her commitment to her rights as a US citizen, they were alarmed by Madison’s experience.

People quickly said it was an example of “voter suppression”.

And that no, it wasn’t inspirational at all.

Others even called it a “poll tax”.

Madison’s journey was put into perspective for people across the pond.

The basic feeling was: this sort of experience shouldn’t be normalized.

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