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This 108-year-old woman voted for the 22nd time, hoping to ‘be an encouragement’

Ruth Graham Ray does not take many things for granted. The right to vote, for instance, is atop her list.

After more than a century of life, the Jacksonville, Fla., woman has voted for the 22nd time in a presidential election, Ray told WTLV.

She made sure this year would be no different. With great eagerness, Ray celebrated her 108th birthday on Saturday by casting her ballot.

It’s too important not to do it, she told her godson, Michael Blaylock.

“She said in her own little way, ‘If I’m 108 years old, and it’s still important to me, then there should not be any excuses from anybody,’ ” Blaylock told WTLV.

Having lived through more than 20 presidencies, decades of historical events and social movements, Blaylock said, Ray values the opportunity to vote and understands the importance of doing so as few others do.

“In light of her own life, the things that she experienced during the civil rights era, and before that the discrimination, the divisiveness, she’s seen a lot in those 108 years,” he said.

This tiny N.H. hamlet was divided in 2016. This year was a Biden sweep.

Family members, friends and neighbors came out to celebrate Ray on Saturday, driving by her house honking their horns and dropping off gifts, which brought her joy.

But beyond candles and cake, Ray wanted to crown and celebrate her birthday by exercising her right to vote, which was legally granted to women 100 years ago, when she was 8.

“It had been in her mind all week,” Blaylock told News4JAX. “She said, ‘I know it’s my birthday and I know I’m 108, but I have to vote.’ ”

Although Ray is no longer able to walk into a voting site, she requested a ballot, filled it out and was taken to a secure drop box by a family friend Saturday.

“I just hope I can hold up and be an encouragement to somebody else,” Ray said.

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