Everybody has heard a LOT about this election. This post doesn’t have anything to do with positions, policies or candidates. It’s about process.
Our 89-year-old mom lives in Oklahoma. I live in Florida. This results in frequent phone conversations that often includes current events and long-ago memories. Last week, during a conversation, I brought up the fact that in the 1960’s Mom worked as a poll worker in Enid, Oklahoma.
Mom said she can’t quite remember how she got involved as a Poll Worker except it was through people she knew at the PTA at Harrison School. That’s when she said, “Remember Shannon Close’s mother? She was somehow responsible for getting the election location getting set up at Harrison School. Everybody was real excited when that happened.”
The other We talked for a long time about it and I ended up by saying, “Could you write down some of your memories about that, Mom?”
There were normally 5 women that worked the poll. There was a woman “in charge”, but she can’t remember the name. The women were responsible for setting up the tables, the voting booths, everything.She said that there were no requirements to show an ID to vote. There was a BIG book that had every voter’s name in it. When you came in, you had to look their name up in “the book” and if there name was there, one lady would hand them a ballot. She described the ballot box in great detail. It was a big box that looked like a mailbox and the lady-in-charge would empty it from the back and bring the completed ballots over to the counter.
The counting was all manual. She worked as a counter sometimes. The sheet had the candidates names on it. When she got the completed ballot, she put a “tic” by that name. Four tic’s, then a strike across them made five votes. When it would get to about 50 or so, the lady-in-charge would do a tally of how many ballots had been handed out vs how many tic’s were on the sheet. If the total didn’t match, they would have to start over tallying… but she said that rarely happened. Keeping track of it throughout the day made it quick to close it all out at the end of the day.
Here’s what Mom wrote. I have transcribed it for the reader’s ease, but I want you to look at the original because somehow it just means more when you see the hand of an 89-year-old woman write certain things. It is very obvious it is from her heart.
Mom’s Blog about working as a Poll Worker
11:00 o’clock Sunday afternoon.
It is before I got my time changed. I got my lap tablet to start my blog and I had it “full” of “stuff”… even Christmas cards from 2015, coming & going. Now who would do that? I think I need to get another pen. This one looks like it has been lost from whoever has owned it.
The election for President of the United States is November 8th, 2016. It has been a long- drug-out debate after debate… mud-slinging and name-calling. So for this 89-year oldster born in 1927, it is a lot of memories of elections from before. I won’t go back & remember history of all the elections. Who run for local office or state or national.
I am sort of short on memory from the way of counting the votes. The lady in charge would tell us when she had seen how many ballots had been passed out. She had 3 or 5 of us take a certain large sheet she gave us, a black-colored pencil that couldn’t be erased. We were assigned a name that numbers with a mark.||||, then when it was 5, we made a mark for the 5th vote across the 4 and counted like 5-10-15-20 to 50 or so as the lady in charge would have us count & look for mistakes ever so often. That way when the voting was closed, it didn’t take as long to go back to look for mistakes. Then we had to take everything down, booths, etc, and take back to the precinct. All voting places had to close by 7 and everything turned in by a certain time. I can’t remember the time on all that.
I remember most after all these years is how hungry I would get. I could have eaten a bushel of fruit or gallons of ice cream. My husband was a prince of a fellow. He would have the children to bed after feeding them and he would have me a Root Beer in the frosty mug and a PayDay Candy Bar. It is easy to remember something like that. I don’t remember what we got paid. As far as I remember, it was never discussed, but I did get a check in the mail and I would think to myself… there is a way of working for money beside just picking cotton.
I have had many, many blessings. The Lord is a God of Grace & Mercy.
God Bless America
Shirley G Smith