First-time voter excited after 65-year wait

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 14, 2004

Mary Snead doesn't care who wins the presidential race as long as his name is George Bush.

"He's my president," Snead said, almost sheepishly. "I like him."

At 65 the Ironton woman finds herself among and unlikely crowd - first-time voters.

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For decades, Snead never attempted to register to vote, fearing that she wouldn't be allowed.

Snead has spent a lifetime hearing adjectives such as special and challenged describe her condition.

Her sister, Betty Compston, simply says Snead suffered brain damage due to complications at birth. Snead's challenges have made learning to read impossible, despite lots of work by friends and family.

"Her greatest desire has been trying to learn to read," Compston said. "But she's never been able to do it."

Compston fondly recalls the early years of Mary's educational struggles.

Former Ironton teacher Ruth Baker started the first special education class in the Ironton district "because of her interest in Mary," Compston said.

Through the years, she never showed much interest in politics until four years ago, her sister said.

During the 2000 election, Mary caught a glimpse of Bush on television and was hooked, Compston said.

"Why she latched onto Bush?" Compston asked out loud. "I don't know. She just got very, very fascinated with him."

"She watches him on the news and listens to what he says," Compston said. "She does not completely understand what they're saying, but she knows she wants George Bush to be her president."

When President George W. Bush stopped in Ironton last month, Mary Snead was front and center.

"She was just glued to him," Compston said. "She never took her eyes off him."

Snead carried photographs of the event to church with her where she proudly showed everyone she could.

Despite her early fears, Snead is eligible to vote and registered before the deadline, Compston said, adding that Snead will cast her vote on an absentee ballot.

Though Compston said some folks might worry that Snead's vote could be persuaded to vote for other candidates, Compston said the choice of who to vote for is entirely up to Mary.

"If she doesn't vote for someone, that's OK," Compston said.