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Now browsing: Hometown News > News > Volusia County

An (election) day in the life of poll workers
Rating: 2.91 / 5 (57 votes)  
Posted: 2012 Aug 24 - 00:12

From manning phones to handing out candy bars, it's all in a day's unpaid work

By Dan Harkins


DELAND - To a lot of people, Election Day is just like any other, only you get a little sticker to put on your shirt.

To candidates, journalists and elections workers, though, there's at least a promise of a paycheck.

So what do all the volunteers get out of this?

Some were polling voters outside precincts for nothing but the memories. Others were holding signs for their favorite candidates, calling voters to nag them about mailing in absentee ballots or driving others right to where they needed to go.


"Where else would I be today?" asked Marcel Shore, who was handing out water to voters outside a polling place at the Chisholm Community Center in southwest DeLand. "On the couch? I'd rather be getting some Democrats elected."

Over at the bunting-and-placard-festooned Republican Club of West Volusia, in a downtown DeLand strip mall, volunteers were abuzz with whatever hole was most needed to be filled.

Volunteer Sherry Crozier manned the front desk with a look of concentration on her face. About 50 volunteers were all over the region, she said, and somebody had to keep track.

"It's a busy time," she said.

Nearby, a staffer from the Richard Clark campaign, for the 6th Congressional district race, lamented his candidate's decision to hand out Clark bars to voters at public appearances and on Election Day.

"We're going to 45 precincts today and just handing out Clark bars," the staffer said. "We're covering 120 miles of coastline. We even designed the commercials to look like Clark bars."

"That's a lot of Clark bars," piped in another volunteer, Larry Ballard.

"Whatever works," Ms. Crozier noted. "People like candy."

"You know where the Volusia County Dump is?" asked Mr. Ballard as straight-faced as he could.

Over at the Democratic Club of Northwest Volusia County, occupying a grand Victorian house on Wisconsin Avenue, a half-dozen elderly volunteers were going down lists of phone numbers to get hold of voters who might not have mailed in their ballots.

Wait until a volunteer hangs up the phone and see what happens when a reporter starts to ask a question.

"Please don't bother her," said a volunteer near the door. She's making calls right now."

The silent woman shrugged apologetically and picked up the phone for another cold call.

As far as the supervisor was concerned, every question answered would have been yet another potential voter missed.

Club Treasurer Kevin Winchell understands her devotion. He praised his city's long tradition of civic engagement.

"If there are certain values that you have," he said, "typically there is a political party that aligns closely with those. So this is your way to use your freedom of speech to advocate for what you believe in."

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