Grandmother's voting legacy leaves impression on grandson

Christopher Austin will be a freshman at Clemson this fall.

For new students, there's a lot of important paperwork, but it was paperwork of a different kind that had his attention -- a registration form for an absentee ballot.

"I've been having discussions at school with my peers, my teachers," Austin said.

"He wants to vote. This is not something I had to urge him to do," said Austin's grandmother, Candi Waites.

Austin knows the process wasn't as simple for his grandmother.

"There were only three states at the time that did not have an absentee ballot for students and we were one of them," Waites said.

In 1964, Waites may have missed her opportunity to vote if friends at her Massachusetts college had not rallied.

"In those days, an airline ticket was only $100, but in those days $100 was a lot of money," Waites said.

Waites' campaign cry was heard around the nation.

"Give up a Coke for Candi. Cokes were 10 cents, so each of the girls could contribute," Waites said.

Waites received dimes from as far as Hawaii.

"I wrote thank you notes on two penny postcards for the dimes," Waites said.

In the Spring, she went straight to the South Carolina legislature, urging them to broaden the absentee voting law beyond military members.

"It took them a year, but in 1965 passed the legislation," Waites said.

Waites, a former public servant, is glad it's different for her grandson. He knows the importance his vote may hold in November.

"It provides a different perspective, I think, if the younger people vote and they get involved," Austin said.

The Justice Department is still considering South Carolina's voter ID law which requires voters to produce an approved photo ID to vote. That law doesn't apply, however, to mail-in absentee voting.

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