Utahn makes first visit to polls after 22 years
KSL Ch. 5
November 4, 2008
By Nicole Gonzales
Today's large voter turnout was in part due to first-time voters, both young and old. Today we caught up with one in particular who has wanted to vote for 22 years, and today he got his wish.
"This is just unbelievable to be a part of, I say to be a part of history. I think we're making history," said Saeed Rezai, director of safety at Westminster College. "It took 22 years, but it was worth waiting."
Rezai was born in Iran, grew up in Germany then moved here to Utah 22 years ago to attend Westminster College. That's when he started his long battle for citizenship.
"It was like a roller coaster: one day was up, one day was down. But there were times I wanted to throw in the towel," Rezai said.
But those who knew him weren't about to let him give up. When the INS threatened to deport Rezai, his Westminster colleagues stepped in.
"We started a letter campaign to our senators, and I was just surprised by how many faculty and staff jumped in with wonderful letters of support," said Westminster College administrator Steve Morgan.
When that wasn't enough, pollster Dan Jones sought help from Sen. Orrin Hatch. "We just fought hard for somebody we respect and love. Saeed's very lovable. He's a very, very fine gentleman, and he'll be a great citizen," Jones said.
Rezai was sworn in as an American back in July, and today he took advantage of his citizenship by casting a ballot and, most importantly, getting an "I VOTED" sticker for the first time.
"I'm going to keep that all day and it probably goes in my collection with all the other things I have," Rezai said.
Certainly, a reminder to never take voting for granted. Rezai said today was the best day of his life.