As voters shuffled in and out of polling locations across the county, some were filling out presidential ballots for the first time.
Dr. Nizar Kibar, a local provider at the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, was voting in his first U.S. presidential election.
“I did vote for President Obama,” laughed Kibar. “I know it doesn’t make much of a difference in Kansas, but I wanted to practice my right to vote.”
Kibar, who was born to a Lebanese family of modest means, expressed gratitude for the election process in the U.S., having experienced voting in the religious sectarian government of Lebanon.
“Living in a third world country, your vote doesn’t mean a lot,” said Kibar. “You don’t get to choose who you want. [Where I am from] a much larger sect surrounds the sect I belong to. Whomever I voted for didn’t count because they controlled most of the voting.”
Sectarian governments divide electorates by religious belief.
Kibar came to the U.S. on a J-1 visa, which brings international students to the U.S. , typically for education and study. Eventually he received his green card in 2006 and in 2011 along with 200 other immigrants were sworn in as citizens in a Wichita area ceremony.
“The first vote I cast was for a county commissioner. That was my first vote and it was very exciting,” added Kibar, who is a registered Independent voter. “That was the first time ever in my life that my vote counted for something.
In this election, I am just happy to be in a country where I can vote for whomever I want.”
When asked about the voting process, he said it was easier than expected.
“It was very easy. The only thing I really know about was the presidential election, because I’ve been following it closely, but I wish I had more knowledge about the other issues.”
About 10 miles to the west, Kiowa County High School senior Halie Headrick was casting her very first ballot.
“My parents always vote, and so it’s kind of a big deal [in my family],” said Headrick. “Mr. [Zach] White has also been talking a lot about it.”
Headrick said students in her social studies class have been discussing comparative voting in other countries, particularly the dying of fingers in the 2005 Iraq elections.
“It was ok,” said Headrick when asked what voting was like. “It was at 7 in the morning, and so I was kind of tired. There were a lot of circles to fill in. I cast a vote in every race. I knew most of the races except the judges, which was a little weird.”
Page 2 of 2 - When asked why voting was important she said, “Its kind of your job as a citizen, to be part of democracy.”