It takes a minimum of 47 precinct officials to conduct a countywide election in Jackson County. If someone cannot work an election, a call is made to a volunteer on the substitute list.
“The election board office is continually looking for persons interested in becoming a precinct official, and currently our substitute call list is very small,” Jennifer Wilson, Jackson County election board secretary said.
Oklahoma law requires precinct officials to attend precinct official training every two years. Precinct officials must attend a training workshop prior to working an election. Many changes have occurred in the past several years, and these training workshops offer a good opportunity to learn and review important procedures, and to learn of change in election conduct. Topics covered include: opening the polls, voter ID law, issuing proper ballots, assisting handicapped voters, helping citizens who are not on the precinct registry and closing the polls.
The Jackson County Election Board recently hosted a workshop at the Altus Public Library and recognized precinct official volunteers for their many years of dedication and humble service. Wilson presented precinct officials with certificates and trophies of appreciation.
The following were recognized: Verna Hunter, Wanda Jean Billman, Pat Shelby, Cleta Biddy, Karen Morgan, Pat Freeman, Faye Moody, Barbara Boaldin, Joanne Reid, Betty Dollins, Victoria Smades, Laverne Powell, Jackie Henson, Parris Fields, Jackie Drone, Mona Boyd, Pat Hunter, Betty Tipton, Mildred Koenig, Barbarba Smith, Jan Kirby, Beverly Fuller, Melba Combs, Glenda Sanders, Carol Goodin, Marjorie Garrison, Linda Frye, Sharon Glenn, Ruth Thomason, Gloria Redeker, Claire Perdicaris, Mary Jane Winsett, Shirley Rowland, Gema Marple, Sondra Harvey, Patricia Rowland, Delynn Anderson, Verna Mayfield, Patricia Beach, Carolyn Boyd, Mary McFadden, MaryWayne Moates, Sue VonTungeln, Ronald Smith, Brenda Lynn, Ann Akins, Glenda Johnston, Helen Brown and James Molledahl.
Verna Hunter and Wanda Jean Billman have served as precinct election officials for more than 50 years.
Hunter recalled voting at the Gunkel Implement Company in Eldorado and marking ballots with pencil. She tallied votes using the straight line marks for one through four, and a diagonal slash for the fifth vote.
“After votes were counted, we used a needle and thread to string them together,” Hunter said.
“We use to be positioned behind the curtain on stage at Roosevelt Elementary School,” said Billman, sharing memories of her first years of service.
Both agreed the 2016 election is certainly the most controversial election of their time.
“We remember when a man and wife would vote — the man would vote first and then the wife would vote — but with the advice and approval from her husband,” they said.
Both Hunter and Billman agreed that by serving as a precinct official, they would see faces that normally they wouldn’t see, and come in contact with new people. Both loved the fellowship.
“There were six officials with over 21 years, 10 officials with 11-20 years, and many with 1-10 years and we appreciate the service of each precinct official and all they contribute to the election system and the voters of Oklahoma,” Wilson said. “They provide an essential public service.”
To become an election official contact the board at 580-482-2370.
Reach Mary O. Esparza at 482-1221 ext 2077