KNOXVILLE — Working at a voting booth may not seem like the most glamorous job but the atmosphere today in Gap Creek Elementary School’s gym is certainly friendly.
As people mill around the room poll workers and voters banter with a familiarity that can only come from years of seeing each other at the booth.
One voter teased that she had come only to get her “I voted” sticker while several poll workers laughed at the check-in table.
Paula Jones, Election Officer and Republican Precinct Chairman, commented that things had died down a lot since they opened at 8 a.m.
“All of the Johnson people come early usually,” she said. “There was a line out the door this morning.”
Jones said that there seemed to be a lot more people lining up to vote this year than in the 2012 general election.
“In the primary back in March we had people coming in who hadn’t voted in years,” she said. “You know, a lot of people who haven’t worked in an election before have definitely wanted to work in this one.”
Jones believes the increase in interest is probably because of this election cycle’s candidates.
She said she has been working at Gap Creek’s voting booth for at least 10 years and, even though it is nice to serve the community, election day is long for those working the booths.
“We’re here approximately 13 or 14 hours and we can’t leave but I do enjoy it,” she said.
Despite Jones’ time serving at the booth, another poll worker claims the title for working at the Gap Creek polling place the longest.
Carl Mills explained how after he retired from TVA in Knoxville he was asked by Judge Linda Clawson to begin working at the Gap Creek voting booth in the 1992 presidential election. Mills has worked at every general election since then.
He described how the best part of the job was getting to know those in the community, which rang true as he was interrupted every few minutes by smiles, hellos and hugs from local voters.
Mills’ daughter and her son work at Johnson University.
“It’s a public service,” he said. “You get to know the people in the community, and they get to know you because you’re wearing a badge,” he laughed.
“It’s kind of like a reunion every four years,” Jones added.
The voting booth at Gap Creek will close at 8 p.m. tonight. Faculty, staff and local Johnson students are encouraged to vote today.
361 people voted at Gap Creek Elementary School today with the overwhelming majority voting in support of GOP Candidate Donald Trump in the presidential ballot.
Stay tuned to the Royal Scribe for more election day coverage including an international perspective and a wrap-up article on the results of the 2016 presidential election.