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Patty’s powering the polls

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Patty’s powering the polls
By Pete Levine ·
Patty’s powering the polls
Patty Taylor and her political pups, Chewie and Finnegan.

AFSCME Ohio Retiree Patty Taylor was an influencer before there were influencers.

In her working years, doing IT for the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, Taylor was one of the founders of her local union (Local 3707/AFSCME Ohio Council 8); later, she became its president (and is still getting calls for references).

When Taylor would put up a candidate sign on her lawn, people would come by to see who she was supporting. When she’d be out walking her dogs, shih tzus Chewie and Finnegan, she would talk issues with her fellow Akronites. She was always registering people to vote.

And this year, Taylor and her fellow Buckeye State AFSCME retirees will put their boots on the ground in a pivotal election. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, one of working people’s biggest champions, is running for a fourth term in a race that could tip the balance of power in Washington.

Brown continues to be the chief advocate for repeal of the Government Pension Offset-Windfall Elimination Provision (GPO-WEP), which cheats public service retirees out of Social Security benefits. As the architect of the Butch Lewis Act, he is responsible for protecting the pensions of more than 1 million workers. And he led the charge to expand health care to military veterans injured by burn pits in the Middle East.

Taylor’s activism goes beyond mobilizing politically for pro-worker candidates. About 10 years ago, when a friend asked her if she wanted to be a PEO, or a precinct election official — a poll worker — Taylor was intrigued.

“I asked what it entails. She said you go on a Monday and do some pre-set-up work, then you’re at the polls [on Election Day] from 5:30 a.m. to about 9 p.m.” And she’s been performing this important civic duty each Election Day since, including during last month’s Ohio primary.

Working at her local polls makes her an important part of the democratic process in the community she loves, says Taylor, now the secretary-treasurer for Ohio-West Virginia AFSCME Retiree Chapter 1184.

Poll workers belong to different political parties and support different candidates, but they share a commitment to making the voting process as smooth as possible for their neighbors.

“It’s rewarding to see some of the younger people getting out to vote. We have a lot of first-time voters,” says Taylor. “They come in and they give me their driver’s license. I ask, ‘Is this your first time voting?’ I explain the process — you go over the ballot box, then send it over to the machine. I always say, ‘Don’t forget your sticker.’ You want to make their first time a memorable one, so they keep coming back to vote.”

Stickers are an important part of the exercise, according to Taylor. For example, when parents with young kids come in, Taylor doesn’t let them leave without one.

Working the polls is an important job, but Taylor and her fellow PEOs try to keep it light too.

“We’re always cracking jokes and talking about stuff,” says Taylor of her fellow poll workers. “Every time we get together, it’s something new. We’re there for 14 to 16 hours a day — you kinda get to know the people. We try to make it as fun as possible.”

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