Armen Kalemkiarian

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A first time for everything

Watertown TAB & Press, MA
Nov. 5, 2004
By Monica Deady/ Staff Writer

Armen Kalemkiarian waited more than 45 years to vote in an election in the United States.

And on Oct. 27, Kalemkiarian, 78, who came to the United States from Soviet Armenia 51 years ago, voted for the first time.

"I wasn't happy with this man [President Bush] so I decided to change," said Kalemkiarian.

Born in Egypt, Kalemkiarian lived in India and Soviet Armenia before moving to the United States. Five years after moving here, she became a U.S. citizen, but never registered to vote.

"I don't know the reason really," she said. "I was happy how I was."

Kalemkiarian, who worked as a secretary at John Hancock and taught Armenian school at night, said when she retired she thought she could live peacefully, but the mix of events in the United States, including rising health-care costs, job loss and the war in Iraq, made her feel like she should vote. Kalemkiarian voted for Sen. John Kerry.

"We don't speak about politics very much in our house because we don't want to make people against each other," said Kalemkiarian, but said her daughter was a big encouragement in getting her to vote. She registered on the last day possible, Oct. 13.

Kalemkiarian joined about 137,000 other Massachusetts voters who registered from Aug. 25, the close of registration for the September primaries, to Oct. 13, according to Brian McNiff, spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin

Massachusetts has nearly 4.1 million voters registered for this election.

Ruth Thomasian, Kalemkiarian's co-worker at the Armenian photo archive organization Project Save, said she knows so many people have been encouraging Kalemkiarian to vote for several years, adding that she was "absolutely excited" that she had finally registered.

Prior to this year, Thomasian said Kalemkiarian would say her vote didn't make a difference.

"We all came and hugged her and congratulated her..." Thomasian said.

Kalemkiarian voted last week at Town Hall, and said she it was exciting, but she was nervous she would make a mistake.

"I'm very happy," she said. "I can sleep very well, but if I get a good result I'll be happier," she said before Tuesday's election.

Kalemkiarian would not see her candidate elected to the White House. But her vote was counted.