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Obama encourages people to vote with retweet of Chicago doctor

With a little help from a former president, Northwestern Medicine’s Dr. Quentin Youmans’ went viral with his tweet about his 102-year-old great aunt casting her vote early.

Ora Smith, 102 years old, casts her vote in Hampton, South Carolina on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2020.
Ora Smith, 102 years old, casts her vote in Hampton, South Carolina on Tuesday.
Provided by Kay Williams

When Northwestern Medicine physician Dr. Quentin Youmans sent a tweet Wednesday morning encouraging people to go out and vote, he had no idea how many people might see it.

It showed his great aunt Ora Smith exiting a car with a ballot in hand and a mask on her lap, moments before casting her vote in Hampton, South Carolina.

“At 102 years old, my great aunt, born the year of our last great #pandemic, made her way to the ballot box to cast her #vote. If she can do it, you can too!” Youmans’ tweet said.

In a matter of hours, the tweet garnered over 10,000 retweets and over 67,000 likes and grabbed the attention of former President Barack Obama.

“102 never looked better! Grateful for all the folks like your aunt who continue to show up and vote in this important election,” Obama said in his retweet.

Youmans said he was shocked when celebrities started retweeting and overwhelmed by the support. His Apple Watch has been pinging him with new notifications every two minutes, he said.

“I was just so surprised, and I really couldn’t believe President Obama not only retweeted but gave a comment encouraging others to vote,” Youmans said. “Obama is an idol for me. His leadership style of grace and humility is what I try to emulate in my own life as a physician.”

Smith was just excited to be going out to vote.

“She had her mask on her lap and found it to be very important to be careful this year with the pandemic,” Youmans said. “But she also knows how important it is to vote and have our voices heard in the democratic process.”

Youmans said Smith believes every election is important in its own way.

He said people from across the country have been sharing pictures of elderly loved ones casting early ballots. It’s been a bit inspiring for him.

“As a physician working at Northwestern, one of the things we’ve seen is how COVID has affected us all,” Youmans said. “Still, it shows how important it is to move forward with our democratic process as long as we take steps to feel safe.”