Longtime Poll Workers Recall When Elections Were Exciting
Carter, John R., The Florida Times Union
Ethel Inglett and Edith Nixon estimate they've given out a
bazillion of those lapel stickers during their combined century
of service as election workers.
And they're happy to provide those red, white and blue
testaments to civic duty, too.
"The voters seem very proud of those things," said Nixon, who
says she's in her late 70s.
Nearly everyone, they say, gets one -- even those too young to
know a precinct from a playpen.
"Of course, the kids have to have them, too, especially the
little ones," said Inglett, 84. "We put them on the kids and
tell them, `See, you beat Mama and Daddy to the voting booth.'
They love that."
Nixon and Inglett, who notched one more election yesterday, go
back to a time when Jacksonville had only about half the number
of its current 257 precincts. The larger precincts often meant
longer lines, they said, particularly in presidential elections.
In the 1940s and '50s, many folks would walk to the polls. And
there was more chitchat; more of a festive feel to the event.
"It just seemed a lot more exciting," said Inglett, a longtime
resident of the Lake Forest area. "There was a hustle and
bustle. Some of those elections -- I think it was a couple of
[Franklin] Roosevelt's -- they'd be lined up down the street.
"Today, there's not much to it. They do it and get on with it.
But then, maybe the candidates nowadays have something to do
with it. A lot of them don't seem too exciting, either."
Nixon, who lives in the Eastside, recalls a less glowing side
of past elections: a time of legal segregation.
When she first registered to vote, she had to use the back door
of the YMCA on East Duval Street. Eventually, her husband, a
precinct committeeman, suggested to their councilman that they
create polling places "where just black people could vote -- and
in my case, work," Nixon said.
She later got a full-time job in the downtown elections office. …