By Lisa Tome
Back when Gerald Ford was President, Evelyn Potter started working as an election judge in Cecil County. The first polling place she worked was at the former Elkton Elementary School, where Cecil College's Elkton Station is now located. She worked a few elections and liked it.
She then expanded her role.
"The Election Board needed help. So I would come in and help them. And then there was a job opening. I applied and got the job," said Potter.
Thirty five years later, Potter is leaving the Election Board where she has served as director for about two decades. She's retiring at the end of the month.
"I have seen so many changes. We have a lot more polling places. And the technology. There have been so many changes," she said.
When Potter started, the county used Shoup Mechanical Voting Machines. Those machines had curtains and levers. The switch was made to optical scan machines and then later, to electronic machines. "In 2014, we are going back to the optical scans," said Potter. "I loved the mechanicals. I think a lot of people did. They thought
there was more privacy (while voting)."
She's also seen a shift in political parties. When she first signed on as an election judge, the Republican Central Committee was recruiting for judges.
"This (county) used to be predominantly Democrat. It's almost even now and we have Independent voters as judges," she said.
The growth in the county has also meant significant changes in the Election Board which is a state agency, housed in the Cecil County Administration Building. "We used to have two (staff) people. Now the office has grown to five," she said. Those staffers are kept busy.
"People think we only work at election time. Voter maintenance is a daily job," she said.
There was also changes to learn and implement including shifting polling books into electronic formats.
"A lot of changes came at one time," she said. "And no matter what happens, the
elections had to happen. There was a lot of late nights, overtime, and
Choosing to retire was a tough decision for the director. But she has left a legacy behind.
"I love it and will miss it terribly. But it's time. I'm going to spend time with family and friends, and travel a little, but just hang out," she said.
Potter is the person who brought the "I Voted" stickers to elections here. She said she saw the stickers while attending a conference and decided Cecil County should offer them.
"When I started, we didn't have the stickers. When I came back from the conference, we got them and people loved them. And they still love them and are happy to wear them," she said. "(On election day) if we run out, I take them to the polls."
Potter said leaving the job will mean missing the people. She said she will miss everyone - candidates and voters alike. And I will miss all the people I have met in the state and the counties," she said. "This has been an interesting job. I love it and I always have."