MORRIS – For 17-year-old Leah Lines, daughter of Greg and Joan Lines of Morris, being an election judge was a way to honor her grandmother, Ruth Lines.
“My nana was a judge when she was younger,” Leah said. “She used to tell me about it, and I wanted to do it.”
Ruth died July 3, and this year Leah honored her by sitting at the election judge table Tuesday, handing out paper ballots.
Ruth’s husband Larry said Ruth felt being an election judge was an honor and she made lifelong friends by serving as one.
“I told Papa I was doing it, and I talked to him today,” Leah said Tuesday. “He told me nana would be proud of me.”
Larry said he was proud of Ruth, as well. He respected her ability to leave at the crack of dawn and not get home until way past dark.
Just like Ruth, Leah woke early to get ready to head to her polling place.
“She liked waking up early and seeing a lot of familiar Morris residents each year,” Larry said. “She did primaries and general elections and took her job seriously.”
With the changes to voting over the years, Leah wasn’t tasked with all manual ballots, or a shift that lasted well into the night like Ruth was.
Ruth’s highlight of her election judge years was the year President John F. Kennedy was elected, as the judges stayed and counted – and recounted – the votes. They didn’t get home until 4 a.m. the following morning, Larry said.
Ruth’s judging days took place south of the river, at Opdyke School, which is now a house, and other locations that are no longer in use as polling places.
Leah feels being an election judge is a unique opportunity.
“Nana said you don’t have to be involved in politics to still be involved in the process,” she said. “It’s a long day but she was happy to be able to help her community by doing it.”
Leah has a little knowledge about politics, as she’s the secretary of her junior class at Morris Community High School. She plans to run for student body president next year.
“I don’t think I’ll be involved in politics when I’m older,” she said. “But I think I like to be part of something that’s bigger. It’s interesting.”