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Poll Worker Greets Voters For 50 Years

by Megan Davis | April 8, 2021 at 9:17 a.m.
MEGAN DAVIS/MCDONALD COUNTY PRESS Poll worker Mary Banks observed the start of her 50th election season on Tuesday. Banks has been working each election in Jane since 1971.

If you've cast a ballot in the White Rock voting district within the last 50 years, you've likely been greeted at the polls by the sweet smile and bright blue eyes of Mary Banks.

Banks said she isn't sure what drew her to volunteer at the polls in 1971, but for five decades now she's come back for each election, every year.

"Maybe I just wanted some extra activity in the community," she said. "I thought it was something I'd like to do, but I didn't know then that I would do it for so long!"

When she first took to the polls to work as well as vote, she and her husband Freddie were living on a dairy farm with their three children, Ervin, Kathy and Vicky.

Banks says a lot has changed since her early days as a poll worker.

"When I started, we counted the votes by hand. One person would read off the names of each vote and we would tally them up," she said.

Nowadays, bulky, electronic voting machines record and count the votes at the end of the day. But, from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. on election days, Banks and her fellow poll workers are there to greet voters, verify they're registered, check them in and guide them through the process of civic responsibility.

"I enjoy seeing everyone come and go," Banks said. "I get to visit with people I may not normally get the chance to see."

She said that during the 2020 Presidential Election, she saw record-breaking participation. On Tuesday, voters were trickling in much slower.


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