When the polls opened Tuesday, Dollie Kiscadden revived a personal tradition dating back to the early to mid-1960s.
Although she can’t quite remember the exact year, the 93-year-old Cleona resident has served as a poll worker for around 60 years.
“My husband Henry and I had always worked the polls and I remember that the first one was a presidential election,” said Kiscadden, who added that she has continued that tradition even after her husband passed away 21 years ago. “When the workers tallied the votes, we wrote them on a large piece of paper, marked them down manually.”
Kiscadden is always happy to serve as a poll worker because she is an American who appreciates the right to vote.
“I do this because it is my duty,” says Kiscadden who is quite frank when she speaks and just as feisty. In fact, she adamantly refused to be photographed for this article.
“I’ve lived in America all these years, it’s been good to me,” she said. “I feel like I should do something, and if they are willing to put up with me, then I am glad to see the people (voters) and make them feel like they are at home.”
Kiscadden said she’d be at the polls early today — arriving around 5:45 a.m. to prepare to receive voters at the Cleona precinct, which is the only precinct she has served. During the day today, she will be majority inspector — although that’s not the only duty she’ll perform until the polls close at 8 p.m.
“I do the book after they (the voters) sign in and I do the tablets,” said Kiscadden. “If someone takes a lunch break, I don’t operate the machines but I will talk to the people to help get them settled in (to vote). At the end of the day, we stay until everything is completed and taken into the municipal building.”
Kiscadden downplayed her contributions and preferred to give the credit to others.
“It’s nothing spectacular,” she said about what she does. “There are those who are on the board who do far more than I do. They are very, very good at what they do and are very congenial.”
Kiscadden, a Cleona native who still lives in the house in which she was born, is able to serve her community as a poll worker — despite her age — because she maintains an active lifestyle.
She works twice a month at Lebanon-based DB Fisher to “help with the books.” She has been employed by the transportation company for many years, and was a bus driver until her late 50s or early 60s. She doesn’t consider herself “retired” either, since she assists with the company’s bookkeeping on a monthly basis.
“I am the oldest person in the neighborhood,” she says about where she lives, which is in the 300 block of East Maple Street between Christian and Cyrus streets. “There are young people who have gotten married that are my neighbors who I used to drive to school on the school bus.”
It takes a great deal of stamina and dedication to work so many hours on Election Day, and not everyone is as up to the task as Kiscadden.
“I’ve worked where some have come in for the first time to work and by lunchtime they say, ‘This is it, this is it. It’s too long,’” Kiscadden said. “But I’ve never gotten involved in any of that. I don’t know, maybe I am just a dumb Dutchman.”
When told that she isn’t dumb, just patriotic, Kiscadden immediately responds: “I don’t know. But I do know I won’t be going to the White House, I can tell you that,” she added, laughingly. “I’ll just be patriotic here on Maple Street.”
One subject that’s no laughing matter to Kiscadden is the right to participate in the election process. She said she has only missed one election and that was due to an unavoidable situation.
“I vote in every election and have only missed one time after having eye surgery,” she explained.
Although the technology at the polling place has been enhanced over the years, the most noticeable change with elections, according to Kiscadden, isn’t about modern technology.
“I think it has changed from being about the person’s personality to party, and that’s my consensus,” says Kiscadden. “You don’t hear anything about their personality, about what they’ve done or what they want to do if elected, it’s too much about the party.”
Despite the “politics” that pervade today’s political landscape, Kiscadden believes that elections are conducted “very, very fairly” and that people should vote in every election.
“I’m not one to argue politics,” adds Kiscadden. “Voting is your God-given right and as long as you are mentally able to, then that’s up to you to do it. You only need to hope that you did the right thing.”
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