OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - One Lee County voter was determined to cast his ballot Wednesday, despite many obstacles.
He said his vote was a way to right the wrongs of his family’s actions decades ago.
Eighty-year-old Dr. William McLeod was particularly passionate about casting his ballot.
“I’ve got to do it,” he said.
McLeod said he requested an absentee ballot by mail twice, hoping to avoid coming in person and risking exposure to COVID-19, but he said he never received a ballot.
“I’m scared to be here, but I’ve got to do it,” he said. “I’ve got to.”
He is fighting that fear because of his family history. McLeod said his grandfather was a probate judge in Wilcox County decades ago, his father was the political manager, and his uncle was the circuit solicitor. All, according to McLeod, were actively trying to suppress voters.
“I know what they did to keep black people from coming across the river to vote,” he said. “I know how much they intimidated voters, managed voters, black voters particularly.”
McLeod said he is trying to right their wrongs and atone for his family’s involvement in voter suppression through his own vote.
When he couldn’t get an absentee ballot by mail, he made a call, which ultimately led to Alabama Representative Jeremy Gray picking him up on a rainy Wednesday.
“If someone wants to vote, I want to help,” Gray said.
The Democratic representative applauded McLeod’s dedication.
“This country, this nation was basically built upon those who are courageous,” he said. “So, I think he’s doing the right thing by exercising his right to vote.”
After a short wait, and after McLeod exercised that right to vote, he weighed in on how he was feeling.
“[I’m] elated that I finally got it done and proud of all these people who are standing in line for three and four hours to vote,” McLeod said. “This is what we all should do, and we should make that vote count.”
News Leader 9 reached out the Alabama Secretary of State’s office to see why McLeod never received an absentee ballot despite his requests. Officials said it could be due to an incorrect address, however, they are investigating other potential causes.