Poll workers prepare for long day Tuesday

Poll workers at Jefferson County’s polling sites can expect to put in a 13-14 hour day today, veterans of voting confirm. Workers at some rural sites will see even longer days because of travel involved.

For Betty Copeland, sheriff at the First Baptist Church Activities Building, 8203 Dollarway Road, it will likely mean consuming three meals standing up.

“The day starts too early to cook breakfast, so (her husband) Bill will grab us a breakfast sandwich at McDonald’s,” she explained.

Poll workers are expected to report at 6:30 a.m., with voting beginning an hour later,” she said. “The day doesn’t end at 7:30 (p.m.) because you likely will have people in line then. It may be close to 9 when we get out of there.

“It’s a great job, but it becomes hard when you are on your feet that long. As sheriff, I get a break because I can walk outside and make sure the candidates, their supporters and signs are at least 100-feet away from the polling site doors.”

For the long hours, the judge or person in charge at a polling site is paid $150, the sheriff $125 and clerks $100, officials said.

Evelyn Blunt, judge at Gospel Temple Baptist Church, 1100 Oakwood, said she takes her responsibility seriously because she knows “each vote does count.”

She said her late husband, former alderman Levert Blunt Jr., emphasized the importance in voting, adding “it is something he made me become a part of. I enjoy working with the crew each year because they take their job seriously.”

Billy Mitchell, who is assigned to Sherrill City Hall, anticipated showing up at 6 a.m. and getting a pot of coffee brewing for the workers when they report at 6:30 a.m. Always having a pot of coffee ready is something he learned while working as a Pine Bluff fireman from 1963 to 1999.

Mitchell said he has been working at the polling site a “number of years,” adding his day will end about 9 p.m. when he returns home after taking the voting records to the Election Commission office in downtown Pine Bluff.

Jimmie Ashcraft, judge at Hardin Baptist Church, said she has been a poll worker for almost 50 years. “There are a lot of good people,” she emphasized Monday evening while attending a training session.

Like Mitchell, she said the day will begin early and not end “until close to 9 o’clock” after the drive to commission office.

Doris Turbeville, longtime worker at the polling station at the Jefferson Water Co. in the Jefferson community, has worked as the judge in past, but switched to a different position this year.

She also praised the poll workers assigned to Jefferson, adding that it helps when community members work at the polls.

“I’ve had people vote here for the first time and now their kids are voting. The presidential elections are the busy ones, so you usually have people in line at 7:30 p.m., and that means you will be leaving a little later,” she explained. “It makes for a long day.”