107-year-old casts her vote

David Ertischek

Red, white and blue stars decorated the “polling station” at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Roslindale, Mass., when 107-year-old Tsetsiliya Braz cast her vote.

With the help of Russian translator Alexandra Dashevskaya, Braz carefully filled in her absentee ballot last week.

Braz was one of more than 320 residents who received absentee ballots, said Judith Selden, administrative assistant at the center.

There are 415 registered voters out of 680 residents at Hebrew Rehab. Overwhelmingly, 95 percent of residents are Democrats.

During the past couple of weeks there have been discussions throughout the center about the Nov. 4 election. Selden said residents were given large print booklets that they filled out before voting so if they were unable to communicate how they wanted to vote, the recreation therapists knew what the resident favored.

“I can read all of them to you,” said Shauna Linnehan, a recreation specialist, to a resident. She then read off all the presidential candidates.

After helping a resident vote, recreation therapist Alison Miner high-fived an elderly woman.

Once the ballot was filled out, it was put into an envelope, sealed and signed by the resident.

“Where is she taking it?” Braz said jokingly. “Is it going to count?”

For Braz, voting is very important. This is the second American presidential election in which she has participated. After emigrating from St. Petersburg, Russia, as a Jewish political refugee around 2000, she became a citizen before the 2004 election. Braz was an engineer in Russia.

In Russia, elections weren’t “a true election” because oftentimes there would be one candidate. In America, Braz feels “every vote matters.”

At 107, Braz was able to read her ballot and fill in the bubbles for her preferred candidates and answers. She stays sharp by reading literature and books on philosophy and history. She has earphones and listens to the four Russian television stations available at the center.

She also wasn’t shy about offering her choice for president.