GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The second largest city in Mississippi had 9,778 people cast a mayoral ballot in Tuesday's party primaries. One of those voters literally left his hospital bed to make sure his voice was heard.
That voter didn't want to be identified. But his story has to be told.
It started Saturday in the Gulfport man's garden. He grabbed a pair of gloves and put them on without checking them ahead of time. Suddenly, he noticed a spider bite on his knuckle. Doctors said the mark looked similar to a brown recluse bite. But they weren't certain that was the spider involved in this incident.
On Sunday, a white ring circled the knuckle. And a red streak was shooting up the man's arm. A day later, that streak reached his shoulder blade. So, a doctor immediately sent the gardener to Memorial Hospital. And nurses pumped the man with IV antibiotics, hoping that would fight off the spider bite infection.
On Tuesday, the man started to feel better. But IVs were still hooked to his arm. And doctors had no intention of letting him leave the hospital until the infection was gone.
Of course, Tuesday was election day. And this man wasn't about to sit on the sidelines while others decided who should run the city of Gulfport.
"It's a duty," he said from his hospital bed. "I'm honored we have the right to vote."
For whatever reason, others don't feel that way. According to a city spokesman, Gulfport has about 48,000 registered voters. However, less than 25 percent of those people actually filled out ballots in Tuesday's primaries.
One of those voters, and his fiancée, walked up to the Gulfport Fire Station #10 voting precinct less than two hours before the polls closed. Around the man's wrist was the hospital ID bracelet he received on Sunday. His knuckle was still white. His arm still had a red streak. In that arm were two IV needles. The lines had been carefully detached, so he could get away from the hospital for a few minutes to select his candidate for mayor and city council.
"Sometimes people make simple excuses not to go vote," he said.
To him, a hospital stay for a spider bite wasn't a good enough excuse to miss out on the 2009 municipal primary.
We talked with the gardener again on Wednesday. He was still in the hospital. But, he was feeling a lot better. And he hoped to be home soon.
This gardener is not the kind of guy who will get into political debates. He's simply a man who believes his vote matters. As he proved on Tuesday, he's a man who will go to great lengths to exercise his right to vote.
"I take it very seriously," he said.
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