ST. MARYS — Mary Jo McKnight has voted in every election for the past 50 years and has had different positions at the polls for nearly as long.
She started as a watcher, and as her interest in politics grew, she has made her way through the different positions in District 9 in St. Marys. She currently serves as its Judge of Elections, a position she has held for more than a decade.
“I’m very blessed. I have great people working with me. No one is ever unwilling. Everyone does their job and works as a crew,” McKnight said.
There was a span of about four years when McKnight was not involved because she changed her party affiliation and wasn’t willing to run against someone who was a friend.
In her lengthy career in politics, McKnight has seen many changes.
Her district has changed polling venues about six times before finally landing in its current home in the Sacred Heart Parish Activity Center.
Additionally she has seen the change from paper ballot to electronic, a transition that has made the job quicker as workers used to wrap up at midnight or later, but now are usually finished by 9:30 p.m.
She also feels as the prevalence of election mailers continues to decline, voters have become more uneducated about who candidates are, especially when it comes to elections of judges and other positions that aren’t as highly publicized.
“I always recommend people know their candidates and do their research,” McKnight said.
When asked how McKnight projects turnout for tomorrow’s primary, she says the Benedictine Sisters, who used to come to the polling place faithfully before the convent was closed, used to say if it rains it’s a Republican’s day and if it’s sunny it’s a Democratic one.
McKnight said bad weather is projected, and laughed, saying that in her opinion that’s okay.
“I get very perturbed when we only have 20 to 25 percent turnout in a primary. It’s such an important election because that is when you pick your candidates,” McKnight said.
“If you don’t vote, don’t complain. With absentee ballots, there’s no reason why a person can’t vote. It only takes 10 minutes.”