Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 19, 1999

ANNA MONICA / L’Observateur / May 19, 1999

If I ever voted any place else, I certainly cannot remember. As far as mymemory allows me, since reaching the majority age to vote (which is longer ago than I care to divulge at this time), I have done it at the Garyville Grammar School, which these days is referred to as Precinct 4 (I learned that from the commissioners). Being a rather small community, we have only one polling placeand that has been it! When I walked recently Cheryl A. Parquet of Mt. Airy didn’t have to ask my name.Actually, she didn’t have to ask many people their names because Cheryl has been a commissioner there at least 15 years, also being commissioner-in- charge for the last few years.

The commissioners arrive at the polls about 5:30 a.m. and are ready for actionat 6 a.m. In a small election they get to leave their positions at about 8:20 afterclosing at 8 p.m., but in large elections they usually can’t leave before 9 p.m.Some of their duties, besides dealing with voters all day – some who can become irate when they don’t come in with the required identification, include making sure the numbers on the books agree with those on the machines. Thenthe commissioner-in-charge goes to LaPlace to drop off the envelope and keys at the Clerk of Court’s office. Sounds relatively easy? Well, it seems to be aspecial calling “you really have to like it,” they say.

Cheryl does like it. In fact, she says she “loves” it. Besides working with thepublic, she finds it interesting to see what the outcome of the vote will be.

Then, too, when there is a death in the community, she can easily place the face with the name.

On this day, Rainere Burl of Garyville, a commissioner for five years, was working with Cheryl. She, too really enjoys interacting with the people comingin, getting to meet and to know them. “You meet a couple of people who come inand make the day,” she says. Both she and Cheryl say they get used to justlooking for and expecting certain people to come in. They admit it gets to feellike “family.”Sometimes the voting day goes quickly, and other times it drags. Whereas at onetime the pay commissioners got depended upon the number of voters, today it is just one fee. According to Cheryl and Rainere, though, that’s the least of it andit’s the people that keep them coming back.

Florence Robinson of Mt. Airy came in to vote, just in time to agree with them.She should know because she was a commissioner for 35 years and took time to recall the number of years she served with Joyce Oncale. For years, Florence’sface was usually the first one you saw as you entered the school to vote, but she now feels she can no longer serve.

The commissioners recall that their largest election yielded about 1,400 voters with the least amount being 300. Cheryl and Florence shook their heads inadmitting that their worst time came about 10 years ago when they had to go to court to defend the numbers. Cheryl tells Florence, “I was so glad you were theone they called up.”Randy Paul Vicknair was serving as commissioner for the first time this election and considered it a long day. And they still had a few hours to go.Back to Top

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