PORTER TWP. – The year was 1966, it was a mid-term election in the second term of LBJ’s presidency and Lt. Gov. Shafer was elected governor of Pennsylvania. It was also the first year that Shirley Braughler began her service as a poll worker in Porter Township.
This past Tuesday, Braughler worked her 51st and final election at that same Porter Township polling location.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Braughler said of her time at the election table, noting that while the job can be busy at times, seeing the people at the polls was always her favorite part of Election Day.
“I’m going to miss seeing the people,” she continued, adding that Election Day often served as the only time she got to see many of her fellow Porter Township residents.
According to Braughler, she first became involved with elections in 1966 at the urging of her then-neighbor, Jane Miller.
“Jane asked me if I ever got out of the house for a day, and I said never for a whole day because I have three kids,” Braughler recalled, explaining that soon after she joined Miller at the polls.
Earning $10 a day, Braughler first served as an elections clerk for four years. She was then elected as minority inspector, a position she’s held ever since.
Braughler vividly remembers decades of early mornings, very late nights and hand counting each and every ballot that was cast by hand.
“We had 96 voters my first election year,” Braughler said. She noted, however, that had there been 100 voters she and her fellow poll workers would have received $2 more in pay.
Looking back on her years, Braughler reminisced of one election year in particular when the Porter Township poll was located inside the still operating Silvis’ Tire Shop.
“It was so loud, we could barely hear a thing all day,” Braughler laughed, adding that she will never forget the smell of vehicle fumes that also radiated throughout the entire building.
When it comes to her most memorable elections, although more recent, Braughler didn’t hesitate to cite the elections of Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump at the top of her list.
“Last year’s election was the biggest we’ve ever had,” she said, explaining that the Trump election garnered an 85 percent voter turnout in Porter Township, many of which were first time voters.
To celebrate her last election on Tuesday, Nov. 7, fellow poll workers Patty Weaver, Judy Tabler, Karen Shaffer and Janet Milliron surprised Braughler with a cake at their polling location inside the First Church of God, while Clarion County Commissioner Wayne Brosius congratulated Braughler on her years of service by presenting proclamations signed by the Clarion County Board of Commissioners and state Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion).
After working with her for more than 15 years, Porter Township poll workers Patty Weaver and Judy Tabler said they will miss Braughler’s knowledge of the election process and dedication to the post.
“She is very knowledgable and dependable,” Tabler said of Braughler, noting that Braughler has only missed one Election Day in her 51 years of service.
“Shirley is a good asset to the election, and she really knows what she is doing,” Weaver agreed. “We are all truly going to miss her.”