50 Years in the Booth: The unwavering dedication of poll worker Jean Sturgis

Published 4:00 am Saturday, August 5, 2023

From voting precincts to casting a ballot, much has changed in 50 years.

But one thing has remained a constant in Warren County: Jean Sturgis continues to volunteer her time as a poll manager.

Sturgis, who said she has “always loved politics,” began volunteering in 1973 after being approached by the poll manager assigned to Goodrum Baptist Church.

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“I was working at Goodrum — I taught kindergarten for four years and was the church secretary there for 25 years,” Sturgis said. “So I was right there, and W.J. Husbands was the manager (of what was District 5 at the time), and he asked me to work, so I started off working the book.”

Sturgis enjoyed working in her own voting district, District 5, but there were occasions, she said, when she had to be moved to another district, like when her husband decided to run for office.

“My husband ran for supervisor in the fifth District in the late ‘80s, and I didn’t think I was going to get to work since he was running in my district,” she said.

However, a poll worker from another district assured Sturgis she could be put to work in another district and that year, Sturgis served as a poll worker at Bovina Elementary School.

In reminiscing about her time as a poll manager, Sturgis described how the voting booths in her earlier days of working at the polls had curtains that were closed by a lever. She laughed when she recalled how some voters were confused with how their votes were tabulated with these machines.

“Sometimes people thought you were going to see their vote, so they would pull the lever back and it would cancel their vote. We (poll workers) laughed about that so many times, knowing that it was too late to do anything about it,” she said.

Sturgis said she has “enjoyed every minute” of her job as a poll worker.

“I have met so many people along the way, and some that I hadn’t seen in a while, and that has been such a sweet blessing,” she said.

There are even times after district lines are redrawn, Sturgis said, when she has run into people who are no longer in her district and say they miss seeing her.

“And I say, ‘I miss you too, but y’all can stop by and see me sometime,’” she said.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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