Both young and old are casting their ballots today and some will be exercising a right they didn't always have.
Andrew Shepard, 97, sees his right to vote as a privilege not to be taken for granted.
“It’s a sacred thing. I've never missed one since. I don't expect to miss one,” Shepard said.
Shepard grew up in Alabama — the Deep South — where Jim Crow laws made it difficult for African Americans to vote. Literacy tests and poll taxes kept black people from exercising their right.
“We wished that we could vote, but it wasn't possible, under the existing qualifications,” recalled Shepard.
At 22, Shepard joined the Navy and served during WWII — where he earned four battle stars. A few years later, he was finally able to register and cast his first presidential ballot for Harry S. Truman in 1948.
One of his proudest moments was being able to vote for the first black president in 2008.
"It's easier now, you can vote now if you want to and if you're of age,” Shepard said.
He already voted by absentee ballot in this year's race and he's glad it's almost over — given the negativity of the campaign.
He hopes the younger generation, like 18-year-old Sac State student Rosa Rios-Dominguez, appreciates this hard-earned right as much as he does.
"For me, being civically engaged is really important,” said Rios-Dominguez.
The 18 year old is one of many Sac State students who will be voting for the first time. She has vigorously studied up on the candidates and the issues to make the most informed decision but she knows too well that her generation, millennials, often gets a bad rap.
“What I am fearful though is I might make the wrong decision, that most people and older generations might call us that we're very ignorant,” Rios-Dominguez said.
Regardless of who comes out the winner once polls close Tuesday night, both Shepard and Rios-Dominguez say they are proud to have their voices heard.
"I feel good, knowing that regardless to the outcome, I had a part in it,” Shepard said.
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