Olvena Smith has volunteered for 55 years in Canoe

Published 1:51 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

By By MaryClaire Foster
Talking about politics inside Canoe’s Civic Center is strictly prohibited, but greeting the newest local celebrity was more than tolerated Tuesday.
Olvena Smith is 92-years-old and has been a poll worker since 1953. Recently Smith has received much media attention, including being interviewed for the BBC’s World News America’s “First Person” series.
It seemed like everyone who walked in to vote told Smith they saw her on television or in the newspaper and congratulated her.
Smith acts nonchalant about the commendation laughing and saying thank you.
Her job, however, is not something she takes lightly.
She added that being able to see many people is a perk of her job.
Her newfound celebrity status has been another perk of her job.
Elizabeth Vinson is the provisional officer at the same polling location as Smith and said she admires Smith’s work.
Smith was also working the first time Vinson voted when she was 21.
Smith began working as a poll worker after her husband left the position and was happy about the opportunity.
Smith remembers spending long nights tallying ballots by hand in those days.
Having been involved in 14 presidential elections and seen 10 presidents take office, Smith said this election has had the biggest turnout she has seen.
Of the little more than 400 registered voters in Canoe, more than 100 had already voted by 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.
According to Smith, 100 people is usually the amount of voters she sees all day during an election.
Smith also said this is the most excitement she has seen surrounding an election, but in years past John F. Kennedy’s and Richard Nixon’s races were the most buzzed about.
As for retirement Smith said she is still not sure.

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