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'Nobody should have an excuse': 102-year-old woman casts ballot in full PPE

"There’s a lot at stake," she said about the 2020 presidential election.

'Nobody should have an excuse': 102-year-old woman casts ballot in full PPE
Cover Image Source: Instagram/Chicago Teachers Union

Nothing will stop Bea Lumpkin from exercising her right and participating in democracy. Not even a pandemic. The 102-year-old from Chicago is making headlines this week after she stepped out to cast her mail-in ballot for the 2020 presidential election with an important message for other would-be voters: If she can vote, so can you. Dressed in a full PPE suit to protect herself from contracting the deadly novel Coronavirus, the centenarian showed by example that every vote counts when it comes to determining the future of the nation.


"That’s why I had my grandson take a photo of me because if I could come out at the age of 102 and face a pandemic [to vote], nobody should have an excuse," Lumpkin told Good Morning America. "I think that in this election more than any other that I’ve taken part in, the only way we can answer it is for the people to come out and vote and stay active to a degree we've never seen before. I think we can do it." The now-viral photo of Lumpkin dressed up in a white and pink head-to-toe PPE suit, gloves, and protective headgear while delivering her mail-in ballot the mailbox last week caught the internet's attention after it was shared by the Chicago Teachers Union.


"This is 102-year-old CTU retiree Bea Lumpkin casting her vote-by-mail ballot. If Bea can do it, anyone can do it. Vote," the union captioned its Instagram post. Lumpkin has been voting for eight decades, having cast her first ballot in the 1940 presidential election and said that not even a global pandemic would break her perfect streak of voting in every election since. "There’s a lot at stake," she said about the 2020 election. "If you never bothered to vote before and if you care anything about the children coming after us, you’ll come out and vote this time."


The mother-of-four, grandmother of three, and great grandmother of one added that she's looking to the next generation of voters to continue moving America and democracy forward. "I have a lot of confidence in the young people," she said. Speaking to Hyde Park Herald, Lumpkin — who is a longtime labor activist, socialist, and retired teacher — revealed that she'd voted for former Vice President Joe Biden as an act against fascism in the United States. "I think democracy is on the line, and if we ever want to have another election, we sure have to deliver a big vote behind Joe Biden, who stands for a continuation of our democratic rights," she said.


Born amid the 1918 flu pandemic to General Jewish Labour Bund members who fled Tsarist Russia, Lumpkin grew up in New York where she participated in strikes against university fees, fascism, militarism, and the framing of the Scottsboro Nine. She worked in the defense industry during World War II and went on to teach for Chicago Public Schools in 1965. Although she admits Biden is no socialist, she pointed out that isn't the issue at the moment. "The issue is basic law, and I suspect that 80% of the population does not want to see fascism in the USA," she said.


A vote for the Biden is a vote to save labor, women's, and First Amendment rights, she added. "It's something so serious — whatever it takes, I'm going to make sure that my ballot is counted," Lumpkin promised. "Everybody needs to come out and vote, but I would make a special appeal to women. When I was born, women didn't have the right to vote. Now, not only our right to vote is threatened, but so is every other right important to us. Let's come out and vote in proportion to our numbers, and I feel that women will respond."

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