33 from Westmoreland County inducted into state’s Voter Hall of Fame | TribLIVE.com
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Rich Cholodofsky
Pedro Cortes, Pennsylvania secretary of State, congratulates Frances Bowman of Bell on being inducted into the state Voter Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in the Westmoreland County Courthouse.

Rebecca Nickle remembers marking a paper ballot for Dwight Eisenhower the first time she voted in a presidential election.

Voting has changed in the 60 years since then. Paper ballots are out. Touch-screen computers are in. What has not changed is that Nickle, 81, has continued to exercise her right to vote.

In fact, she’s done so in every November election since she liked Ike.

“I think it is tradition. My family always voted, and we always went together,” the Hempfield woman said.

Nickle was among 33 Westmoreland County residents enshrined Friday in the state’s Voter Hall of Fame. The designation is reserved for those who have cast ballots in at least 50 consecutive general elections.

More than 23,000 voters in Pennsylvania — about 500 of them in Westmoreland County — have been honored with Hall of Fame status. The last county induction ceremony was in 2010.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes, who was in Greensburg for Friday’s ceremony in the county courthouse, called those enshrined “patriotic” and acknowledged the changes they’ve witnessed in the last half-century.

The year of their Hall of Fame eligibility coincides with 50th anniversary of the passage of the historic Voting Rights Act, signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson. The law gave all Americans — regardless of gender or race — the right to vote.

“You are, in fact, the faithful,” Cortes said.

Ed Lyons Sr., 80, of North Belle Vernon was an Eisenhower man when he cast his first vote.

“Voting was difficult then. The lines were a lot longer,” Lyons said. “I was interested in government, and I felt it was an honor to be able to do that.”

The newest members of the Hall of Fame all started voting at an older age. Until 1971, the minimum age to cast ballots in Pennsylvania was 21. Now, the voting age is 18.

Dorothy Bolbrich, 78, of Smithton said it was an election for South Huntingdon supervisors that prompted her to go the polls for the first time in the early 1960s.

“I just like politics. I’ve always liked to get out and help the right candidates,” Bolbrich said.

Politics has always been in the blood of 86-year-old Joan Montgomery of Bovard.

“My dad was a Democratic committeeman, and he came to the door all the time to say it was time to vote,” she said. “He always would say it was a privilege to vote.”

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or [email protected].

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