Two hundred twelve Elk County residents were inducted into the state's Voter Hall of Fame during a ceremony held Thursday in the St. Marys Area High School cafeteria.
Kim Frey, director of the county's Bureau of Elections and Voter Registration, gave the opening remarks.
"These are the go-getters. They are the people who have shaped our community," Frey said of the Hall of Fame honorees, noting that she knows many of them personally because of their participation in the election process, both as voters and as volunteers. She also encouraged everyone to exercise their right to vote.
"One vote does make a difference," Frey said.
Frey also acknowledged Cathy Leonard in the county's elections office, Richard Gavazzi of the Elk County Planning Department, and Lisa Anderson in the Elk County Treasurer's office for their help with the event. Her remarks were followed by members of Boy Scout Troop 99, who presented the colors and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Guest speaker Thomas J. Weaver, acting deputy commissioner at the state Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, then took the podium to address the audience. He said it was an honor to be present and acknowledged the inductees for achieving at least 50 years of consecutive voting in the November election.
"Today we recognize the unparalleled commitment and the extraordinary achievement of Elk County's most distinguished citizens - those who have faithfully exercised their right to vote for over half a century, consistently for over half a century," Weaver said. "Your induction today into the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame is symbolic of your overall commitment to our democracy, and probably most importantly, your involvement to your community. We proudly welcome you into the family of Pennsylvanians who have demonstrated trust in our democratic process."
Weaver explained to the honorees that their names would be recorded and placed in a permanent display in the Voter Hall of Fame exhibit at the Pa. Dept. of State building in Harrisburg. He requested that they use their knowledge and wisdom to get others involved in the voting process.
"Help our younger voters understand why it is important to exercise their rights as the citizens of our great nation. Encourage them to register to vote and remind them why it is important," Weaver said. "Your induction today, I believe, says that all of you are ambassadors of democracy."
He acknowledged Frey and the Elk County Commissioners for their work in putting the event together, and had some final words for the Hall of Fame inductees.
"All of you hold a unique place in Pennsylvania history," Weaver said. "It is indeed a great day in Elk County, and my congratulations to each and every one of you."