SIOUX CITY | For 56 years, Mildred Davis has relished helping people carry out their vote.

"I like meeting the people...I just love doing the work. It just fits me," Davis said Tuesday.

Davis, a Woodbury County precinct election worker, started staffing the polls in 1960 when John F. Kennedy won the White House over Richard M. Nixon.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate on Monday honored Davis as the state’s longest serving precinct election worker. Pate said Davis has done well in aiding Iowans to vote and ensure the integrity of the elections.

"Serving in this capacity for 56 years is a remarkable achievement and I cannot thank Mildred enough for all she has done to help Iowans vote over the years," Pate said in a statement.

Davis said she didn't realize her tenure was longer than anyone else in the state.

"I just knew I had worked a lot of years," she said.

Pate invited Davis as his special guest Monday at the state capitol, for the official casting of Iowa’s six electoral votes for president. The Republican electors confirmed President-elect Donald Trump's victory in the state in the November election.

Pate presented Davis with the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award.

Davis, 93, was pleased to receive the award at the ceremony, which was also attended by Gov. Terry Branstad and Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill, the county's top election official.

"It was a loo-loo, real excited," she said.

"It was a long day but she was a trooper and enjoyed it immensely," Gill added.

Gill said Davis exemplifies how election official should perform.

"She has always been conscientious and enthusiastic while performing her duties at the polling place, and it is that dedication to duty that positively impacts her fellow workers and the voters she serves,” said Gill.

Also accompanying Davis and Gill to Des Moines was Woodbury County Supervisor Jackie Smith, of Sioux City. Smith's mother, longtime Democratic Party activist Betty Strong, encouraged fellow Democrat Davis to become a poll worker in 1960.

"(Betty Strong) asked me to help out. I am still helping out," Davis said.

Davis said she enjoyed several roles over the years of working at Woodbury County polls. Her favorite was in recent years as leader of the team at Precinct 8 at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Sioux City.

Davis had a career as a cashier at the Salvation Army store. She is long retired from that work, but isn't sure that she is done with poll working.

"If they are short of help, which they usually are, and I am available, I will do it," she said.

In August, Davis spoke briefly about her work with the Woodbury County supervisors, who commended her for her more than five decades of service.

Pate said Davis is among the Iowans who provide a needed help in elections.

“Precinct election officials are the backbone of our election day system. Long before a voter shows up on election day and long after the polls close, precinct election officials are hard at work," he said.


County and education reporter

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