National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, August 23, 2023, is a National Day of Action established by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to encourage people to help America vote by signing up to be a poll worker.
“Poll workers are critical to the success of an election,” said Francisco Diaz, San Benito County’s Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters. “Having an adequate number of poll workers to staff polling places on and before Election Day can ensure voters receive the assistance they need at the polls and can help provide a positive and smooth voting experience for all.”
To commemorate this important day, the San Benito County Elections Department awards one of San Benito County’s longest serving Poll Workers, Ruth Erickson, as Poll Worker of the Year. Ruth has dedicated 20 years of service to San Benito County Elections.
Diaz had a sit down with Ruth and learned of Ruth’s long history of volunteerism. Ruth’s parents were also avid volunteers, so it was really “in her blood” to help others, including blind children and help search for children that ran away from home.
As a young girl, Ruth volunteered in England while she was a girl scout, and in her teenage years she spent many hours volunteering at nursing homes, especially during the holidays by making beds, writing letters, and interacting with the residents.
As a student at Hornsey College of Art, Ruth traveled the United States by Greyhound bus for 3 months, which is when she met her husband in San Francisco. During Ruth’s move from London to California, she continued to volunteer any chance she got.
As a lifelong volunteer Ruth has encouraged others to volunteer, met new incredible people, and got out of her comfort zone.
When Ruth Erickson was presented with the “Poll Worker of the Year” recognition she shared a few thoughts on volunteering in elections. She shared her passion for volunteering in elections recognizing the challenge of something different happening every day that requires problem solving skills. Ruth admires changes because of the ability to learn something new during the process.
“Elections are constantly changing and evolving because of what the community needs, legislation has changed or simply because it just makes more sense to operate in a certain way,” said Ruth Erickson.
Over the years of volunteering as a poll worker, Ruth has enjoyed seeing people she does not get to see on a regular basis, seeing voters’ children grow up, and helping the children complete their Kids Ballot.
Ruth has worked at 6 different polling locations throughout the county. Ruth always looks forward to coordinating potlucks amongst other poll workers and being able to try everyone’s specialty dish, sharing puzzle books with other poll workers, and getting the annual pastry from the elected official.
“Poll workers like Ruth Erickson are essential to ensuring that elections are successful,” said Diaz. “These individuals are trusted community member who assist all voters and ensure they have the best experience while casting their vote. You can have an experience like Ruth Erickson if you volunteer today!”
To learn more about San Benito County’s Poll Worker program, please visit: https://www.sanbenitocounty-ca-cre.gov/elections/community-voter-outreach/adult-and-student-poll-workers