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Votes

Short Walk To Vote

Greenspring residents able to vote within their gated community.

Abe Kramer was up at 3:45 a.m. on Tuesday, a full day of work ahead of him to ensure the validity of his neighbor's votes.

Kramer was the chief election officer at Greenspring, a retirement community for active adults which has the distinct honor of being its own election precinct.

"I've worked for many years on Election Day, it's a lot of fun, a lot of work and a lot of challenges," Kramer said.

In his hand, he carried an electronic poll book, a computerized instrument that allows him to check a person's polling place by name, address or Social Security number. If a voter is in the wrong polling place, he said, the electronic tablet will print out a slip of paper with the correct polling place.

Most of the residents at Greenspring are eligible to vote in Hunters Crossing, a central building on the campus of over 2,000 residents.

"This is a closed community, only people who live here can vote here," Kramer said.

Electronic voting is easier for the residents than having to stand in a booth and pull levers, Kramer said, and his job of compiling information at the end of the day is simplified.

"Every machine talks to one another. When the voting is done, all the information will be transmitted to one machine," he said.

FOR THE ENTIRE 13-hour voting period, Kramer was helped by Lee High School student Osmond Mohammed, a volunteer who had been trained in a three-hour course to assist anyone who needed help voting.

"The only thing I can't do is touch the screen for them," said Mohammed. "This started as an election project. I wanted to help out and the other option was to put up signs. This seemed like it would be more interesting."

He chose to volunteer at Greenspring under the advice of two friends, Zohra and Donia, who work in the cafeteria there, he said.

"They told me I'd really like it and I'm glad I listened to them," he said. "The people are really friendly. I had no idea elderly people were so interested in politics."

Mohammed said he was surprised so many residents of Greenspring came out to vote Tuesday. "It'll probably make a big difference in the election," he said.

When Kramer opened the doors to voters at 6 a.m., "there was already a line of about 10 people," he said. By 10 a.m., over 360 people had voted.

VOLUNTEERS FROM both parties signed up to work two-hour shifts welcoming residents to Hunters Crossing, handing out information for the Republican and Democratic parties.

"Everyone who comes in knows exactly for whom they're voting," said Marge Zitmann, a volunteer for the Democrats. "I used to do this same thing for the League of Women Voters."

Across the sidewalk, Joe Benn was handing out information on the Republican candidates hoping to represent the district.

"What's wonderful about living here is that the campus shuttle brings you right to the door, you never have to go outside," Benn said. "That makes it very easy for us senior citizens to come out and vote."

Helping out on Election Day is "part of being a good citizen," Benn said.

"We do this because we believe in it," said Zitmann.

Later Tuesday morning, Zitmann and Benn had been replaced by Howard Walker and Henri Scioville at the front doors.

"My first experience with going to the polls was when I was very young," said Walker, whose mother was a delegate to a state convention in Utah and taught him the importance of voting.

For Scioville, an American citizen who immigrated from Colombia 48 years ago, the right to vote is something he takes seriously.

"I was very surprised to hear that in the recent election in Iraq, the percentage of people who voted in their first election was higher than the percentage of people who voted last year," he said. "It's important to vote because when you plan to vote, you study a little better about the candidates."