A familiar face in voting booths for decades
A familiar face has been seen around local polling places since the early 1970s. Agnes Wehr, 88, of Westphalia, has served in various capacities since her children were school-aged.
The first time she worked an election was in the entrance of the old school. Back then, voting was with a large machine, where voters went behind a curtain to pull the levers. She’s seen voting transform from the big machine to everything being counted by computers.
“Voting is important to me,” Wehr said. “I worked many years and with a lot of different people. They were always good people to work with. I just enjoy going out and offering my time.”
Wehr said for the last 10 years she has done gopher work and hands out the ballots.
“I don’t work on the computers,” she said.
Over the years, Wehr worked one year counting absentee ballots in Harlan.
“Another year they needed someone to go to Manning for a school election,” she said. “I’ve worked in Panama several times. It’s wherever the election committee decides they need help.”
Wehr said the small towns were consolidated so that each one doesn’t have to have their own elections.
“One year I worked at a school election in Panama. There were three of us working and we had two voters come in all day,” she said. “When we went back to the courthouse, we told them we thought they should consolidate it and have it be in Harlan. It wasn’t too long afterward they put the towns together.”
Wehr said election day makes for a long day when she needs to be there by 6 a.m. and it’s close to 10 p.m. when she gets home.
“People should have an interest in what’s going on in your country and your town and you should vote,” she said. “Give your opinion and you can’t complain afterwards. It’s important to vote. We are lucky in the United States that we can vote. Some countries don’t give people a choice.”
“The dedication demanded of every one of those people working elections for Shelby County, including Courthouse employees, is a bigger duty than most people realize,” said Mark L. Maxwell, Shelby County Auditor and Elections Commissioner.
Wehr said it’s a simple job, but it’s got to be done.
“There are quite a few 18-year-olds that come in to register and vote,” she said. “It’s good they take interest when they are young. Sometimes they are more up on what’s going on in the country than what the older people are.”
Wehr enjoys her work with the elections.
“I like to meet people and catch up with people at the elections,” she said. “I know a lot of the people who come in to vote. I enjoy being out and working with people.”