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.