Tooele County senior citizens that have trouble using modern voting machines will get a helping hand from one of their own this year.
Beverly White hasn’t missed voting in an election since the 1952 presidential election.
White, now 85 years old, marked a paper ballot for the Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson that year when she voted at the Tooele County Courthouse.
Stevenson lost in a landslide to Republican Dwight Eisenhower. White went on to represent Tooele County in the state legislature as a Democrat from 1972 to 1990.
White has joined with Republican Tooele County Clerk Marilyn Gillette this year to encourage senior citizens to vote in the 2014 election.
“Voter turnout in general is terrible,” said White. “We used to be one of the best counties in the state and now are near the bottom.”
In the 2010 general election, 48.3 percent of Tooele County’s registered voters turned out to vote. The 2010 turnout rate placed the county in 22nd place out of 29 counties in Utah.
Seniors that don’t vote because they are afraid of the new computer voting machines may be contributing to the low voter turnout, according to White.
To fix that problem, White worked with Gillette to bring voting machines to breakfasts this month at the Tooele and Grantsville Senior Centers.
“Marilyn is going to have the machines loaded with some fun type questions,” White said. “And we will have volunteers on hand to show people how to use them to vote. There will be no classes or lectures, just people helping people figure out how to use the machines.”
The voting machines are “very adaptable” for seniors, according to Gillette.
“We can show them how to adjust the font size to make them easier to read and how to properly vote for a write-in candidate,” Gillette said.
“Once the senior citizens get comfortable with how to use the machines, we will ask them if they want to volunteer on election day to help out at polling locations,” White said.
The voting machines will be at the Tooele Senior Center on Feb. 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and at the Grantsville Senior Center on Feb. 26 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
“We hope that senior citizens will come out to the senior centers on these days and get comfortable with the voting machines,” said White. “People shouldn’t stay home on election day because they are afraid to vote.”