One Dedicated Voter: 98-year-old Resident Makes It to the Polls on Tuesday

City Councillor Giovanni Recupero (in back) and Chelsea Police Officer Anthony Ortiz help 98-year-old Geraldine Piva get up to the Williams School polling place on Tuesday morning. The Suffolk Street resident hasn’t missed a vote in more than 50 years.

It’s not every day that 98-year-old Geraldine Piva gets out of the house.

It’s not so easy to get around when one is just a few steps away from triple digits.

But on Election Day this past Tuesday, there was no stopping the Suffolk Street resident from getting to the polls.

Piva is a relative newcomer to Chelsea, having been raised in East Boston, and moving to Chelsea in 1954. And since that time, she’s never missed voting in an election.

“I’ve been voting in Chelsea since 1954,” she said after voting at the Williams School polling place Tuesday morning. “I wasn’t going to stop this time. This is a very important election.”

Presidents, Congressmen and City officials have come and gone, but Piva has remained a strong vote at the polls.

“My favorite vote was for Richard Nixon,” she said. “I know he was in trouble, but he did a lot of good things. I don’t think I voted for Kennedy. I was registered as a Democrat when I first started. They haven’t done so well. Now I’m an Independent really. I like a balance. We need more of that.”

Her sister, Arlene Lelos, who is 81, said she and her sister have been voting in elections in Chelsea together for some time. She reiterated that they felt there should be more balance.

“We have always said we prefer to vote for the person and not the party,” Arlene said. “My sister and I have pretty much voted for balance over the years. We believe there needs to be a check and balance.”

Piva’s big day on Tuesday actually came by accident, her sister said.

She didn’t plan on going to the polls, but rather voting by absentee ballot due to the fact that getting out is rather difficult at her age.

However, Lelos said that when the time came, they couldn’t find the absentee ballots.

“I looked and looked for them and couldn’t find them,” said Lelos. “We didn’t want to miss an election because we never do, so I asked Geraldine, if I could get help, if she would want to go down to the polls. She said absolutely and so here we are.”

Said Piva, “I wanted to come. I’m glad I came.”

The person who helped them get to the poll was City Councillor Giovanni Recupero, who fielded their call and was glad to be of assistance – driving the sisters to the Williams School in his personal vehicle.

“They reached out to me and said they needed to get to the polls and would need some help because of their age,” he said. “I was more than willing to help them. This is great. This is what it’s all about. She might be the oldest person in the state to go vote at the polls. This is fantastic that she’s never missed an election and that voting is this important to her. It wasn’t easy to get up and get out here for her. It was very difficult.”

For Piva, it was just another day at the office.

She checked in at the polls, her walker in hand, made her way to the voting booth and selected her choices – as she always has.

“Chelsea’s a real good town,” she said, as she left the poll.

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