On election day, poll workers can be the difference between a smooth experience and long lines and confusion. Just ask Myesha Hawkins – this year marks nearly two decades of her helping at the polls, a tradition started by her grandmother.
“I have worked the polls for more than 18 years. I’ve always realized the importance of voting because of my grandmother – she started me out working the polls with her,” said Hawkins, a YWCA resident. “I enjoy doing my civic duty, but I also just love it. It means that I am doing my part.”
Commonly referred to as the ‘army of volunteers’ who staff polling places around the country each election day, working long hours, poll workers are “the guardians, facilitators, access-granters, and overseers of the in-person voting process nationwide,” as one University of California, Berkeley working paper put it. Studies show that the majority of poll workers are women, and that more than half (56%) are over the age of 61. The day’s shift, Hawkins notes, is 15 hours, but she’s not focused on the clock.
“I’m there for voters; I try to give them all the support and time they may need,” she said. “When people come in, and if they are confused or upset, it’s important to be patient and calm. That’s why I’m there.”
YWCA has a long history of working to ensure women’s voices are heard at the ballot box and that women continue to be a driving force for our democracy. YWCA knows that women are changemakers — in their families, their workplaces, their communities, and their country. In a typical general election, Hawkins helps more than 1,000 citizens exercise their voting rights.
“If I could say anything to the community, it would be: voting matters, and your vote counts. Go out and vote!”
Find your polling place, review your rights, locate transportation, and more at www.ywcadayton.org/vote.