Galicia Malone's contractions were five minutes apart when she arrived at her polling place in Cooks County, Illinois, this morning, but that didn't stop her from studying the ballot carefully and making sure her vote counted.
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"I was just trying to read and breathe, read and breathe," the 21-year-old mom-to-be told WBBM Newsradio. "That's what I kept telling myself, 'Read and breathe, read and breathe'."
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Pregnant with her first child, Malone went into labor four days early. Her water had already broken when she arrived at the aptly named New Life Celebration Church near Chicago around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. But even hard labor wasn't enough to stop her from voting in her first presidential election.
"I never voted before so this made a major difference in my life," she told WBBM Newsradio. "And I wanted this to be a stepping-stone for my daughter."
She went into labor around 3 a.m., she said, but refused to go to the hospital until after the polls opened. As she left her polling place -- the aptly named New Life Celebration Church -- she was holding her lower back and smiling widely. She drove herself to South Suburban Hospital.
"The pains are pretty steady, but my doctor says to think of it as getting ready to give life," she told My Fox Chicago. "This is my first baby, a girl, and I wanted to make a good impression. I want to have a story to tell her."
"If only all voters showed such determination to vote," Cooks COunty clerk David Orr told NBC News in Chicago. "My hat goes off to Galicia for not letting anything get in the way of voting. What a terrific example she is showing for the next generation."
Malone, who lives in the Chicago suburb of Dalton, said that even though she is against abortion, she believes that women have the right to make their own health-related decisions, so she cast her vote this morning for President Barack Obama.
"I just agree with more of his policies than with Romney's," she said.
"I grew up on Sesame Street and PBS," she added. "He wants to cut that. What will my daughter grow up on?"