It’s Election Day, and voters are coming in and out of McLean 6th Grade Center. Inside, poll workers are busy handing out ballots and checking IDs. In between talking to voters she’s known for years and teaching 6th graders about the election, one volunteer finds time to talk about her enduring passion for politics – Linda Cozzen.

As a Tarrant County Democratic Party precinct chair and alternate election judge, Cozzen said she oversees all polling site operations at McLean 6th Grade Center. Voters from precincts 1117 and 4498 come to the school to vote, and Cozzen makes sure each one is legally able to vote.

“I’m here to protect the integrity of the elections,” Cozzen, a TCU alumna, said.

After the polls close at 7 p.m., Cozzen and the other volunteers compile the results of the election. They will then send the results to the Tarrant County Elections Administration, where the votes will be added to the total for all precincts.

But that’s not all Cozzen does on Election Day. She also gives tours of the polling station to the 6th graders who attend the school and explains the voting process to them. She said she also encourages parents who vote to bring their children with them, so they can learn more about voting.

Cozzen said she has always been passionate about politics. She was a delegate to the Texas Democratic State Convention in the early 1970s, and she was also a member of the League of Women Voters.

She has been involved ever since. She campaigned for former Texas Governor Ann Richards in the 1990s and has been an active participant in local politics. Topics such as education and women’s rights are vitally important to the country’s progress, she said.

“It’s the only game in town,” Cozzen said. “It affects our lives so intimately. It’s a matter of life and death, sometimes literally.”

The voter turnout at the McLean 6th Grade Center was high this year – as of 5:30 p.m. on Election Day, more than 400 people had cast their vote, she said. [LOOK UP FINAL NUMBERS] While the numbers are not as high as they were in 2008, they are still greater than in elections of years past.

“I don’t think anything will ever surpass 2008,” she said. “It was madness.”

A shift in voter demographics has occurred since 2008, Cozzen said. She’s noticed that voters have become more diverse in many ways, including age. More first-time voters are coming to the polls than ever before – at McLean 6th Grade, more than 12 cast their votes Tuesday.

These changes are encouraging, Cozzen said. If more young and minority voters make their voices heard, they can affect great change.

“Once they coalesce, they can move mountains,” she said. “They can right tremendous wrongs. I watched the civil rights movement happen, and I know the potential for incredible change is here.”

Regardless of which candidates voters choose, Cozzen said it is vitally important to vote and participate in making decisions that affect the lives of every U.S. citizen.