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'I'm not ready to retire yet': After more than 30 years this Laurens County poll worker still dedicated to democracy

Susan Rooks has been working at the Laurens County Board of Registrars since 1991. She says she enjoys working with people, and letting them know they can vote.

LAURENS COUNTY, Ga. — Tuesday morning, voters across the country and here in Central Georgia will hit the polls in the first major election since the 2020 presidential election. That was an election that lead to protestors storming the Capitol, threats to election workers, and challenges to the results. 

Despite all of the challenges, people from across our state will be at polling places Tuesday to help you fulfill your constitutional right. 

We talked to one poll worker in Laurens County who has dedicated over 30 years to the vote. 

Susan Rooks has been working at the Laurens County Board of Registrars since 1991. 

"Everybody keeps asking me when I'm gonna retire, but I'm not ready to retire yet," she says.

"I enjoy working with the people, especially the elderly, making sure they are contacted, they know that they can vote, they can make their applications," she adds.

She's so invested to the process that she used to personally mail people voter applications before Senate Bill 202 made that illegal.

"People call me and say, "well you used to mail me an application every year," and I say well I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to do that anymore," Rooks says.

She says like herself, her staff hasn't let the threats stop them. She says her team has grown. She has a full team of what she describes as "seasoned" workers.

"I've gotten a lot of calls, people wanting to work at the polls," she says. 

Rooks and election superintendent Genola Jackson say they want all voters to have a good experience because they understand how important every vote is. 

"It's their right, Its a privilege because every country doesn't have that right" says Rooks.

"It's a part of democracy, It doesn't matter what party you represent. Its just important to get out and vote for change," says Jackson

However, the work isn't always easy. Rooks says voters don't always follow rules, like not using electronic devices, and it's their job to enforce them. 

"They kind of get a little ill with us, when we remind them that they can't, or if their phone rings and we remind them sorry you cant answer your phone turn it off," she says. 

Rooks says over the years some voters have lost trust due to what they see online. 

"Some people put things out there in the media about what happens in other states, but you just have to trust the system. I trust the system." Rooks says 

That's why Rooks and Jackson place honesty at the top of their priority list.

"Have to be as transparent as possible, to instill in our voters that there's nothing to hide," Jackson says.

Jackson says, every poll official makes sure no one leaves without voting, even if they have to fill out a provisional ballot. 

"We instill in our poll officials that we don't want to deny anyone the right to vote. That's very important," she says. 

With each ballot counted, they continue to build trust in the system.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a poll worker you can find the requirements here. 

Want to take the next step and sign up? You can look into that here.


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