SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Soon many will head to the polls and, due to early voting, many already have.
Although the decision is in voters’ hands, the responsibility of making sure those votes count is in the hands of poll workers.
It takes more than just the campaigning of political candidates to have an election. Mary-Lu Bonte knows it takes the heart of poll workers.
“We’re ordinary citizens doing something that’s important to us for the country,” said Bonte, a poll clerk.
As early voting is underway, poll workers said they’re ready for the job that they see as a form of service.
“I’ve always done work for this country,” said poll worker Connie Porter. “Retired military, retired guardian ad litem, and working the polls are a continuation of my civil work.”
With each election grows the bond poll workers said they feel with not just each other but with voters.
“We bring the personal touch to the whole process, it’s not just a mail-in ballot, it’s a personal contact,” said Bonte.
Spartanburg County Director of Elections Adam Hammons stands behind that.
“They’re the folks you see at the bank or the gas station or the grocery store,” said Hammons. “You know those are the same friends and neighbors and community members that you’ll see on election day at your precinct.”
It’s the belief that every vote counts and should be counted correctly that motivates poll workers to complete classes and take an oath.
“It’s the best way to learn and observe the process is to be an actual poll worker,” said Anne Ring, an assistant poll clerk.
Poll workers said the most important step is the last one.
“When you start to walk out the door, do not take that paper with you because it has your choices on it,” said Ring. “You’ll stop by the scanner on the way out the door and deposit that white piece of paper, that’s your vote and you can actually see the count go up when your vote is logged in. And that’s how you know you voted.”
While some said they do it for the country.
“It’s a way of giving back to a country I’ll never be able to fully repay,” said Welbie Houghton, a poll manager.
Others said they do it to learn.
“I enjoy observing the democratic process in action,” said Larry, a poll manager.
What poll workers want voters to know can be summed up in four words.
“Come and join us,” said Bonte. “We do need a younger generation of poll workers to join us.”
Poll workers must be 18-years-old and registered to vote in South Carolina.
There are also student poll workers. For that, you must be 16 years old and a South Carolina resident.
Both positions are paid.
For more information about election day and what steps to take if you’re interested in working at the polls, click here.