by Victoria Knight
Lisbeth Robles turned 18 on November 6. At 7 a.m. this morning, she voted in her first Presidential Election at Alps Road Elementary, her home precinct. Then she jumped in her car and drove to work at the Five Points Fire Station.
Robles is a poll worker, and the 7C precinct team needed her. They applauded as she came through the door – casting your first presidential vote is a pretty big deal.
Nobody understands this better than Terry Doyle. At 66, Doyle is the poll manager for the Five Points Fire Station. She’s an energetic force, whether she’s sitting at a table inside checking voter signatures, or answering questions from voters who have showed up at the wrong precinct.
Almost every poll worker at 7C today has connections to Doyle.
“Terry Doyle got her claws into me one time. I came out and did it once, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I enjoy it,” said Bill Francis. Francis, 78, is a retired hospital pharmacist. He’s been volunteering as a poll worker for about 6 years.
“I just enjoy getting out, and getting things going. When you get to a certain age you like doing things like this because it gets you out of the house,” said Francis. “And it’s a contribution, too. It’s as much of a contribution as giving money.”
Emily Grace Blackstone, 35, another friend of Doyle’s, volunteered for the first time today. She needed to be busy.
“It’s an anxious election and I wanted to be doing something during the day. So this seemed like a good thing to be doing,” said Blackstone.
Gabriel Mantione-Holmes, a 16-year-old junior at Clarke Central High School, was also recruited by Doyle. Though Clarke County students get the day off, he chose to spend his day working at the polls. He worked the primaries, too, so he’s a veteran of sorts. He woke up a little late this morning, however.
Doyle and Mantione-Holmes are neighbors and their paths cross. “She asked me, and I was like, “Yeah, sure, why not?” A Tuesday off my schedule every once in a while really doesn’t hurt me,” said Mantione-Holmes. “And I mean, you get paid, so it’s not that bad.”
Doyle has been a poll manager in Athens-Clarke County for 26 years and has been recruiting volunteers for nearly as long. She worked on a campaign in Chicago in the Sixties, joined the League of Women Voters, and became more and more enmeshed in politics.
“It’s been kind of a life-long concerted effort, to be involved in the electoral process,” said Doyle. “It’s sort of a well-spring of belief. I feel very strongly about involvement with my fellow humans.”
Part of Doyle’s civic mission involves empowering voters, especially the younger generation.
“I’ve got young folks on my team,” said Doyle. She’s especially thrilled that Robles worked her first Presidential Election Day just two days after her 18th birthday.
Robles is a senior at Monsignor Donovan Catholic High School, and her mom is in the process of becoming an American citizen. “She will have to wait like four years to be able to vote, but she’s excited for that,” said Robles.
Robles is another of Doyle’s recruits, and she started volunteering two elections ago. Doyle won her over by saying that poll work would prepare her for being a voter once she was old enough.
“I really wanted to see what it was all like,” Robles said. “And it really did help me when I went to vote for the first time, I knew exactly what I was doing, so I liked that.”