Precinct Managers Ready For 2004 Vote

Dot Gilbert held the key to Tuesday's election. "Keep it in your bag so you don't lose it," an election commission employee said to her.

Gilbert is a veteran precinct manager. On Tuesday, she'll be at Gulfport's central fire station. She's learned from past experience to always double check her blue election bin. So she used her key to go through her precinct's election supplies.

"You can't imagine what it's like opening the polls and not having everything ready," she said.

For Mrs. Gilbert and the other 65 Harrison County precinct managers picking up their election gear, Tuesday's vote will be the biggest test of their political lives. Gilbert admitted she was a bit nervous.

"But we try awfully hard to do everything correctly," she said, "to follow the law, to make sure everything is legal. And to give everybody a nice place to cast their vote."

Nationally, there is plenty of scrutiny about Tuesday's election. So poll workers will be closely watched to make sure every ballot is counted. In Harrison County, voting hasn't been a problem in the past. So poll managers are confident they won't have problems on Tuesday. Just ask Minnie Reed.

"With my workers and I, I think we're going to do real good," she said, while waiting for the election commission to load election equipment into her car. "Everything is going to be real good tomorrow."

Moments later, Pat Smolcich arrived. She's running a Biloxi precinct.

"I'm thinking we're going to have to work awful hard," she said. "But I'm not nervous."

These precinct managers unlock their polling places Tuesday morning at seven.