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Two of California’s Longest-Serving Poll Workers Honored

Scotts Valley and Capitola women have been working the polls for 60 and 55 years respectively.

~By Gail Pellerin

Constance (Connie) Adkins and Carol Marchbank, who have staffed the polls during elections in the last 60 and 55 years respectively, were recognized today by Secretary of State Debra Bowen for their extraordinary commitment to the electoral process.  While praising their dedication, Secretary Bowen called for more people to contribute to their democracy this November. 

County Supervisor John Leopold also praised Connie and Carol for their service and presented each with a certificate from the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. 

“For decades Santa Cruz residents have counted on Connie and Carol to keep the polls running smoothly and I thank them for their valuable public service,” said Secretary Bowen, California’s chief elections official. “Experienced poll workers play an indispensible part of any successful election, but even the most seasoned veterans need help. I’d love to see more voters and high school students in Santa Cruz join Carol and Connie by dedicating a day to democracy and be a poll worker on November 6!”

“Connie and Carol have been such an important part of our team for so many years, I don’t know how we could have managed without them," added Santa Cruz County Clerk Gail Pellerin. "Election day could not happen without the outstanding service of people like Connie and Carol. I hope they inspire many new volunteers for November."

Constance “Connie” Adkins was born in 1926 and has been serving in the polls since Eisenhower was elected president in 1952.  She began serving in Santa Clara County with her parents.  Her father delivered the booths, at that time made of metal and wood, to the precincts.  Her mother volunteered as a poll worker and later was hired as a full time employee in the Santa Clara County Elections Department.  Her most memorable moment working the polls was her first time.  They hand counted every ballot and worked until noon the next day, without sleep. Her advice to young and new poll workers is to “get involved, remember it is a privilege to vote and working the polls is a great way to understand how all the pieces fit together.  Plus it is a lot of fun.” Connie will celebrate her 86th birthday when she works the polls in Scotts Valley on Nov. 6. 

Carol Marchbank first served in the polls in 1957 in Hood River, Oregon. Her mother-in-law offered to watch her three children if she would take her place at the election.  Later she moved to San Jose and served as the inspector of her polling place for several years.  Carol recalled that Norm Mineta voted in her garage when he was mayor of San Jose.  Later when he was a Congressmember, he invited Carol, her husband Chuck, and their son Kelly to lunch and a tour of his office and the White House when they were in Washington D.C. for a Hickory Farms convention.  At 79 years old, Carol continues to serve as a full-time clerk at her polling place in Capitola. Carol’s advice to all poll workers is to “wear a smile at all times and thank each person for coming in and casting a ballot.”

Each countywide election requires a one-day army of 800 poll workers in nearly 140 precincts throughout the county. Poll workers help to secure ballots, educate voters about their rights, ensure accessibility for voters with disabilities, and more. A clerk is paid $75 and an inspector earns $100 for the day’s work. Poll workers earn an additional stipend to attend a training class. Interested people may call the Santa Cruz County Elections Department at 831-454-2060 to sign up or visit http://bit.ly/Help2012 for more information.Student poll worker applications are available online at http://bit.ly/HelpHS

To serve as a poll worker, a person must be a registered voter or a high-school student in good standing who is a United States citizen, at least 16 years old, and has a minimum 2.5 grade-point average.

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