Decatur County Board of Elections and Voter Registration board members honored long-serving poll workers on June 9 during their regular monthly meeting.
During the ceremony, the audience and board members heard from those poll workers with decades of service having to count paper ballots at their polling location with little light, or no air-conditioning or heat, and some with no facilities or restrooms.
But what the board members found most amazing was that these workers would agree to work election after election – some for more than 30 or even 40 years. But the one poll worker who was most amazing was Fannie Boutwell, who had worked for more than 60 years as a poll worker.
Bobby Davis, who has served more than 30 years, said he first started working as a poll worker in what he called a “little ole shack” with the only lights being kerosene lamps he brought it and with no facilities. He commended the board for revamping all the polling locations in the county, where the nine locations now have lights and restrooms.
“It’s been a long road and I don’t know if I will keep going with it,” said Davis, who currently serves as the poll manager for the Mount Pleasant polling location. “It gets pretty rough sometimes. We are all just grateful for what you have done for us.”
But it was the members of the board who were impressed with the poll workers, expressing how their longevity, dedication and hard work have made elections in the county run relatively smooth over the years.
“The election system in Decatur County is not us,” said Elections Board Chairman Wendell Cofer. “It’s really you all. Every two years, we call you and ask you to take two or three days out of your lives and come up and preserve democracy.”
Board member Keith Sellars said he was amazed at not only those who have 10 to 20 years, but was “absolutely stunned that we have had several people that have 40 years and one with 60 years.”
“That is just unheard of with anything today,” Sellars said. “I just want to commend each and every single one of you for your dedication. You do this for your love of the community, and we probably don’t tell you enough but we do appreciate you very deeply.”
The following poll workers were honored by the Board of Elections and Voter Registration:
- Fannie Boutwell, who is the only one retired of those honored, for more than 60 years;
- Mary Jacobs, Janelle Nelson and Anna R. Washington for more than 40 years;
- A.E. Hester for more than 35 years;
- Bobby Davis and Frances Gray for more than 30 years;
- Ethel Fuller and Danny R. Harrell for more than 25 years;
- Susie McCroan for more than 20 years;
- Sammie Battle, Jean Givens and Maxine Medley for more than 15 years; and,
- Margaret Bryant, Georgette Burke, Alvada Chandler, Zack Calhoun, Gloria Harrell, Betty Jackson, Wanda Matthews, Janet Mitchell, Lois Rowan and Larry Stubbs for more than 10 years.