A young DC voter breaks her ankle but still manages to cast her ballot

By Megan Johnson
Updated November 08, 2016 08:54 PM
Courtesy Jen Harris
Credit: Courtesy Jen Harris

When Jen Harris left home on Tuesday morning, she had no idea how much work it would take to get her to the polls.

“I was super excited to vote, just amped,” Harris, 31, who works as an economist, told PEOPLE. “The section of Metro that I live on is closed currently, so in order to get to work I have to take a commuter rail with a very rigid schedule. I woke up two hours early so I could get to my polling place and make it onto the commuter rail.”

The Maine native was leaving her Silver Spring, Maryland, apartment building when she slipped and landed on her ankle, resulting in a compound fracture.

“I called 911 as I’m looking at my ankle. It looked like one of those trampoline accident photos,” Harris recalled. “My foot is going the wrong way, and I can see bone.”

When the ambulance arrived to the scene, Harris got onto the stretcher and the EMT’s splinted her leg.

Courtesy Jen Harris
Credit: Courtesy Jen Harris

“That’s when I saw how much blood I had lost,” said Harris. “They asked me what I was doing and I was like, ‘I was going on my way to vote!’ ”

“I asked if there was any way they could take me to my polling place and they said no,” she added.

With no family in town and most of her friends at work, Jen knew she had to figure out an alternative way to cast her vote. Luckily, she found a friend who was able to come to the hospital to assist.

“I really wanted to vote, that was the whole purpose of why I was out,” she said. “I was like, ‘I need to figure out how to do this.’ So we looked up the Montgomery Board of Elections on our phones, and you need to fill out an in-person form in order to obtain a ballot. That’s when I turned to social media and someone found the form.”

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After finding a nurse to let her print out the form, Jen’s friend Bob had to bring it to the Board of Elections in order to bring her an official ballot.

“Bob does not have a license so he had to Uber there,” she said. “They took me into surgery so I have plates and pins and a splint, but he was the first thing I saw with my ballot when I came to, and I was so excited.”

While she was immensely groggy in the post-anesthesia recovery unit, Harris says her desire to cast her vote for Hillary Clinton made her snap awake.

Courtesy Jen Harris
Credit: Courtesy Jen Harris

“I was like, ‘I’m gonna get to vote, this is so exciting,'” said Harris, tearing up. “There were a couple times … the idea of not voting in this election is really upsetting. The idea of not making it. So there’s a real relief to get to hand in the ballot.”

Bob grabbed her filled-in ballot, and got in another Uber and brought it all the way over to the Board of Elections.

Finally, Harris had cast her vote.

“I was so sad I wasn’t going to be able to vote, and when I did get it, the relief that I was going to be able to participate is really important to me,” says Harris. “More than one person has compared me to (Parks and Recreation character) Leslie Knope!”