SYKESVILLE, MD. -- Emma S. Griffith went to the polls when women won the right to vote 70 years ago, and she hasn't missed an election since.
"Because we were given the privilege to vote, I want to keep it," Griffith, 96, said from her room at the Oakland Manor Inc. assisted-living complex. "I just think we should vote."
It bothered her when she was younger that women were not allowed to vote until the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution affirmed that right in 1920, she said.
The low voter turnout in the September primary in Maryland is a sore point with her.
Only 30 percent of eligible voters went to the polls on Sept. 11. Only 24 percent turned out in Howard County, where she votes. State elections officials predicted a 47 percent turnout for today's general election.
"I think they're careless," she said of non-voters. "I don't think much of that."
Griffith has voted in every primary and general election in Howard County since she moved to the county in 1972, a county Board of Elections official said. Baltimore, where she had voted before that, doesn't keep earlier records.
She was born Oct. 12, 1894, and grew up in Baltimore. She married three times. She was a homemaker who raised two sons and helped them through college by making and selling candy from her doorstep, said son Louis A. Scholz, 72, who lives near Sykesville.
Scholz recalled that his mother had a penchant for writing letters to public figures about the prevailing issues of the day.
"She would write to people if she didn't like what they were doing and she would write if she liked what they were doing," he said.
"I just thought she was a very determined lady, and I think that's true now," said Scholz, who usually accompanies his mother to the polls. He said he often suggests which candidates his mother should vote for. Many times, she dismisses his recommendations and makes the decisions herself.
Griffith's eyes aren't as sharp as they once were and a stroke last March has slowed her, but she keeps up with political figures and the issues. She said her son helps to keep her abreast by reading newspapers to her. She said she values honesty more than anything in a public official.
She wouldn't say how she will vote today. "That's confidential," she said. But it seems Gov. William Donald Schaefer, up for reelection, has a good chance of getting her vote.
"I think Schaefer's a good man," Griffith said.
Her voting streak was in jeopardy on primary election day when she was worried that her failing vision might frustrate her attempts to read the names of the candidates, she said.
She decided to vote after a five-minute talk with Jeffrey A. Pepper, the administrator of Oakland Manor.
"I wanted her to vote, if just to keep her string going," Pepper said. "I felt real bad about somebody not going after voting in every single election."