When the polls open on Nov. 6, six poll workers will be ready to greet voters at Precinct 4A, a small room at the Athens Multimodal Transit Center.
“They are ready to serve and are passionate about the jobs they do,” said Sandra Holt, manager of Precinct 4A. Holt was born in Athens, still lives here 58 years later, and works full time as an office assistant for AT&T.
The mainstays of the team are five African-American women, all over 50 and all new to Precinct 4A, though they bring experience from other polling places.
For Holt, working the polls on election day is a family tradition. Her mother, Rosa Ellis, is an 82-year-old retired poultry worker who has worked at voter certification tables for 15 years and collected cards for the past decade. Her dedication to poll working influenced Holt a great deal.
She brought her daughter to the job 20 years ago. Today, Holt is a manager who works with her on a team. “My mother teaches me to be the best that I can at any and everything that I do. We work great together on the election day.” said Holt.
Holt has been a district manager for the past 10 years. “I enjoy working as a poll worker and managing the polling site. It’s a great feeling knowing that you have helped and served others,” she said.
The other poll workers are equally dedicated to the demanding process. The two assistant managers, Annetta Dious and Delphine Harris, have worked with Holt for about 15 years. The 2008 election was the first for Reba Williams, a semi-retired Athenian, but now she’s hooked.
“I enjoy working at the polls because it gives me an opportunity to work in a small group setting with people and it is also a way of serving my country,” said Williams. “Voting is an integral and important of American life, and I feel honored to be able to work at elections.”
She’ll never forget setting up a special voting machine so that a blind person could cast a ballot. “The second most unforgettable memory is that I was re-united with a friend with whom I had lost contact. She came in to vote and I learned that she had recently relocated back to Athens,” she said.
Precinct 4A voters used to cast their ballots at the Boys and Girls Club, which has since been torn down. “The change in polling place does have some effect on how efficiently we do our jobs,” said Williams, “The polling site is very small and cramped and does not lend well to an orderly procession of work stations.”
“Being in the place that it is, the Multimodal Transit Center offers no privacy for workers or voters,” said Williams. “Also there is not ample parking for poll workers. When we get there in the mornings and when we leave at night, it is dark and unsafe for females to have to navigate to parking spaces.”
It’s always hard to maintain a quiet atmosphere with buses coming and going all the time. “But the staff is very helpful in keeping the riders in order,” said Holt.
All the poll workers are now undergoing training to get ready for the big day. “I find the training extremely helpful. It makes it easier to remember things that have been forgotten during non-voting seasons and also brings us up to date on any new laws,” said Williams.
She hopes that they will have a smooth and uneventful Nov. 6, that the machines will not go down and that everyone who comes in to vote will be courteous.