Local poll worker for over half a century steps back this year due to pandemic

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 5:55 PM CDT
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SUNFISH, Ky. (WBKO) - Poll workers are essential in every election, and one very special one would have been working her 59th year this election, but stepped back due to the pandemic.

When Betty Duvall of the Sunfish community isn’t cooking and entertaining, you can find her at the polls. That is until this year.

“I stepped back this year due to the virus,” said Duvall. “I would love to be there. But at my age, I thought it’d be best if I step down-- let a younger lady do it this year, and to protect me and to protect other people. And so I just asked to stay out this term and go back to the next one.”

Nonetheless, with over half a century working the polls, this Kentucky native has stories.

“1961 is when I started working in this little building," said Duvall pointing to a now run-down structure in the middle of a cow field.

Historical elections and voting moments had taken place within the rundown walls that cannot talk, but someone once inside of them luckily can.

“We had an extension cord across the road to a neighbors house so we could have electricity,” explained Duvall. “We always had a big sign out front said vote here. And I wish I had that sign.”

Married at 16, a mother of five, and a hard worker, Duvall’s civic duty goes far beyond voting and working the polls for nearly six decades.

“When someone moves in my neighborhood, I go to them and ask them would they like to register to vote.”

Duvall was recognized several years ago in Frankfort for her dedicated service.

“We went and I got this pin that I have on, and we had a luncheon and was recognized by a lot of people up there.”

Based on her stories and personality, it’s clear that Duvall knows no stranger.

“We know almost everyone who comes into vote. It helps a lot,” said Duvall.

She has a strong passion for politics, polls, and people.

“I just enjoy being real with people,” said Duvall with a smile.

At 80 years old, COVID may have taken away her 59th year of being a poll worker, but it’s not taking away her freedom or her optimism.

“And I just like to see everybody get out and vote,” encouraged Duvall.

While it may be her civic duty and passion to be a poll worker, perhaps, in the end, it’s now her civic duty to step back in order to save herself for years to come.

“I hope to continue for many more years.”

Politics runs in this family’s blood. One of Duvall’s daughter, Kathy was the first female magistrate in Butler County from 1997 to 2005.

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