"Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States
Not voting - that wasn’t an option to Betty O'Tremba. Betty grew up during the women’s suffrage, a time when women were not yet granted the right to vote. Betty can recall the joy in her mother’s heart when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920 granting American women the right to vote. Betty’s mother was proud to vote and was never deterred by the weather or distance it took to cast her ballot. Betty remembers a time when her mother walked 5 miles in the snow to get to the polls so she too could vote. That dedication was imprinted on Betty from a young age and Betty promised herself she’d never miss a chance to vote. To this day, she has kept that promise.
But not without some level of difficulty. The June 5, 2018 election presented a new challenge for Betty. She had assumed she was still registered as an Absentee Voter. However, as Election Day approached, she found herself with no ballot. Finally, on Election Day it was then discovered that Betty was not a presently registered to vote, due to residential circumstances prior to moving into Pondera Medical Center Extended Care Facility (PMC ECF). Betty’s daughter advocated on her mother’s behalf to the PMC staff and explained what happened. PMC Life Enrichment and Social Services worked together with the Clerk and Recorder’s Office to explore their options. Time was of the essence, as this all came together on voting day (June 5th).
The options were limited but the team worked together and devised a plan to accommodate Betty’s wishes. PMC Life Enrichment Manager, JoAnne Cobb, drove Betty to the Pondera County Courthouse. Betty was able to register herself and to cast her ballot inside the PMC Surrey. Commissioner Janice Hoppes and Shaunna Graham boarded the Surrey and temporarily turned the bus into a voting booth. With Ms. Hoppes and Ms. Graham aboard the Surrey driver was able to leave the area to ensure voting privacy for Betty.
On the return trip to PMC, Betty expressed her appreciation for assisting with this election,
“It is so nice that I got to vote. You sure went out of your way to make this happen.”
JoAnne Cobb responded that she was happy to help and glad to see Betty exercise her right to vote. Betty continued, “I will never forget the year of 2018; on June 5th someone did the extraordinary so that I could vote.”
To vote is an honor and a privilege for American citizens that allow them to express their opinion and elect holders of high offices. This right is not to be denied by anyone. At Pondera Medical Center Extended Care we take resident rights very seriously. This includes the right to vote. Residents are ensured this right before they even settle in through the PMC admission process. During this process our Social Worker, Traci Woith, and our Life Enrichment Department interview residents about their needs, preferences, hobbies, interests, and you guessed it . . . desire to vote. Many residents choose to vote using absentee ballots, in which case the ballots may be mailed directly to the resident or delivered by family members. Or in other cases family members take the resident to the voting polls to vote.
JoAnne concluded, “We are honored to care for Betty and to assist her in exercising her right and fulfilling the promise she made to herself as a little girl.”