SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Despite heavy rain, voters are coming out in droves this Election Day, and it was no different on Syracuse’s West Side. Faith Heritage School was nearly empty at 7:30 a.m. on election day last year. This morning, there were lines to both pick up a ballot and to cast it on the electronic machines.
Those lining up at the polls today all had an opinion to voice, whether it was on a specific issue, like job creation, or the state of the nation as a whole. Thomas Rouse, a window cleaner in downtown Syracuse, can’t remember the last election he missed. This time around, he was voting for more broad issues.
“We just need change,” Rouse said. “It’s not right. We just need change, period.”
So earlier this year, Rouse got his family and friends together and made sure they all registered to vote.
Ranette Releford is another Syracuse native who is encouraging her children to vote, but hers still have a few years before they can cast a ballot. Releford brings her daughter, Emerald Green, to the polls with her every year to emphasize the need to vote.
“She understands how important it is that even before work and even before school, we go out there and we cast our vote,” Releford said.
Releford’s grandparents are the reason she brings Green to the polls; once field workers in Florida, they fought for the right to vote decades ago.
Green, smiling with her mother’s “I Voted” sticker, said she loves going to the polls with mom. This year was her eighth visit to the polls. Releford’s grandparents used to tag along too, but Releford and Green moved so they no longer have the same polling place.
For both families, the message remains the same.
“The elders fought for our rights for our right to vote,” Rouse said. “So I just want to keep that going. I don’t want our rights to change.”
Voting is a family tradition, Releford said, that will not end anytime soon.